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.]

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Attawapiskat handed victory by Federal Court

The Federal Court said today in a judicial review that it was "unreasonable" for the federal government to appoint a third-party manager in Attawapiskat last fall as the Ontario community was dealing with a housing crisis.

Attawapiskat First Nation had applied to the court for a judicial review of the decision by Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Duncan to have a third-party manager take control of the community's finances.

Palestinian leader predicts third intifadah

The plight of Palestinians has reached a point where another intifadah, uprising, is all but inevitable, says a member of the Knesset, the Israeli parliament.

Jamal Zahalka leads an Israeli Arab party, Balad (Nation), also known as the National Democratic Alliance. A prominent Israeli Arab who spent two years in jail, he was first elected in 2003 and re-elected thrice since. I spoke to him when he addressed a Canadian Palestinian group in Mississauga last weekend and a more mixed gathering in Toronto on Monday.

Joseph Stiglitz: ‘There Is No Instance' Of A Large Economy Growing Through Austerity

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz has some choice words for anyone who thinks the only way to improve the economy is to tighten the country's belt.

Among them: You're wrong.

“There is no instance of a large economy getting to growth through austerity," Stiglitz said in an interview Tuesday on “Bloomberg Surveillance.”

Primitive Heterosexuality: From Steubenville to the Marriage Altar

Upon first consideration, the Steubenville rape case and the Supreme Court’s deliberation on marriage are simple things, easily understood—and with no more connection to each other than proximity in headline news. In one we have the emblem of “rape culture,” in the other a testament to this nation’s fraught but ceaseless march toward a more perfect union: American sexuality at its worst and its best, the jungle and the picket fence. It is so pat it makes a thinking person gag.

The Marriage Con

The talk of marriage these last few weeks—whether about same sex marriage, young marriage or, most hilariously, Ivy League marriage—reminds me of a fight I had with a high school boyfriend. We had just gotten back together after a brief break up, during which time we both saw other people. He felt very strongly that I had done something wrong by dating someone else. He, of course, was in the clear.

Will Voters Forgive Obama for Cutting Social Security?

President Obama has riled loyal Democrats by tossing Social Security onto the table in his poker game with Republicans. Not to worry. I think I know how this story ends. A year from now, when the 2014 congressional campaigns are hot underway, Republicans will be running against Obama-the-slasher and promising to protect Social Security from the bloodthirsty Democrats.

Striking diplomats ramp up 'e-picketing', other ‘soft’ bargaining tactics

OTTAWA — Canada’s striking diplomats are ramping up “soft” job-action tactics, challenging the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade over their right to use the department’s email to e-picket.

On Monday, the 1,350 foreign service officers who went on strike last week began work-to-rule pressure tactics to bring the Treasury Board back to the bargaining table to resolve the outstanding wage gap that led to last month’s overwhelming strike vote.

Half a century later, Pearson’s achievements are exceptional

MONTREAL — Any serious list of great Canadian prime ministers includes Lester B. Pearson, who brought the Liberal Party back to government exactly half a century ago in the election of April 8, 1963.

In only five years in office, his achievements in social and economic policy, as well as Canadian identity and unity, were second to none in modern times.

Ottawa signals an about-face on danger-pay cut

The Prime Minister's Office said Wednesday it intends to reverse a cut in danger pay for Canadian Forces personnel serving in Afghanistan, though it later clarified its statements to say it had asked officials to "re-examine" the move.

The cuts of about $500 a month were first reported by Radio-Canada/CBC on Tuesday. The Defence Department said the cuts were being made because Afghanistan was not deemed as dangerous as it used to be.

The NDP should stay true to its socialist roots

On Wednesday, April 3, delegates to the upcoming convention of the New Democratic Party received a message from our president, Rebecca Blaikie, about yet another suggested replacement of the preamble to our constitution.

That the party brass is taking another shot at changing the constitution comes as no surprise to any New Democrat. This is, at least, the third consecutive convention where we’ve seen similar attempts from the top. At the 2009 Halifax convention, there was suggestion that the “New” in the NDP’s name might be dropped so that we’d become the “Democratic Party.” Together with the presence of many Obama strategists at that convention, it suggested a rightward shift that would turn the NDP into a party of the centre like the American Democrats. The opposition to any such move was so great that it was not even proposed.

Canada pulls out of international health group

Canada has pulled out of an international health and well-being group that it helped found—abandoning the group six weeks after committing to pay tens of thousands of dollars in yearly dues that its director says have never come.

Canada was one of 11 partner countries in the Northern Dimension Partnership on Public Health and Social Well-Being, a group set up as part of a wide-reaching dialogue between the European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Russia.

New Film Explores Obama's War on Whistleblowers and the Free Press

Americans love the idea of the whistleblower: one brave person willing to stick their neck out for the greater good, even in the face of severe blowback. Many American high school students read On Civil Disobedience, Henry David Thoreau's classic treatise that urges Americans to take a stand against government's ills. But over 160 years later, legal protections for whistleblowers haven't caught up with Thoreau's ideals. Americans who disclose government misconduct risk losing their jobs and their homes—and some are prosecuted under the Espionage Act, a 1917 law originally intended for dealing with foreign spies. That's life for national-security whistleblowers under the Obama Administration, according to a new documentary premiering next week titled War on Whistleblowers: Free Press and the National Security State.

FBI Investigating Alleged Insider Trading By Former KPMG Partner

April 9 (Reuters) - In a case that could shake one of the world's largest accounting firms, KPMG said it resigned as auditor of two U.S. companies as the FBI on Tuesday began investigating insider trading allegations involving a former KPMG senior partner.

The companies - nutritional products group Herbalife Ltd and footwear maker Skechers USA Inc - said separately that KPMG had quit as their auditor in connection with alleged leaks of nonpublic information.

Teacher Resignation Letter From Gerald Conti Says His Profession 'No Longer Exists'

When Gerald "Jerry" Conti decided to retire from his teaching career after 27 years at Westhill High School in New York, he went out with a bang.

On March 29, Conti, 62, posted the text of his resignation letter on Facebook, along with a photo of Porky Pig saying "That's All Folks!"

The letter lays out why, after several decades, Conti believed he had to call it quits. Conti points the blame at legislators who "failed us by selling children out to private industries such as Pearson Education," a testing company. He argued the New York State United Teachers union failed its members by not mounting an effective campaign against standardized testing, and said there's now a "pervasive atmosphere of distrust" preventing teachers from developing their own tests and quizzes.

Bitcoin, Explained

What is a Bitcoin? How did you pay for your coffee this morning, by cash? By credit card? If a growing number of bank-fearing techies have their way, you'll soon be able to pay for that mocha latte through an untraceable virtual currency called Bitcoin. As of this month, Bitcoins are worth over a billion dollars, and interest in the currency is skyrocketing. Here's everything you need to know about a currency that sounds like it belongs in a fantastical realm: You can't touch it, it's prized in the underworld, its creator disappeared in a cloud of mystery, and if you want to keep it safe, you should keep it hidden in a bunch of different places.

Monsanto Claims to Ditch Herbicide While Selling More of It

Genetically modified seed giant Monsanto likes to trumpet its "commitment to sustainable agriculture." The story goes like this: by generating novel, high-tech crop varieties, Monsanto will wean farmers off of synthetic chemical poisons. The company even markets its flagship product, seeds genetically engineered to survive its own Roundup weed killer, as a tool they can use to to "decrease the overall use of herbicides."

Slick lobbying in Washington

WASHINGTON -- Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she's not a proponent of any individual resource project, even as she's working the Washington corridors of power this week in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Alberta government paid to take out a large ad in the Washington Post newspaper Tuesday that called the proposed $7-billion pipeline from Canada's oilsands to the Gulf Coast "the choice of reason."

Yet Redford maintains it is the industry's job to sell any given project, not hers, calling it "a very clear distinction."

"We do think it's an important project. It is not my job to be the proponent of that project," Redford said late Tuesday after a protest-filled forum at the Brookings Institute, a centrist Washington think-tank.

Justice denied — again

The Harper government’s crime agenda is supposed to ensure the law applies the same way to everyone. You might think that’s a good thing. However, as Correctional Investigator Howard Sapers’ recent report so clearly shows, when it comes to sentencing, sameness can be a brutal form of discrimination — especially for aboriginal peoples.

To see why, let’s start with some facts:

    Over the last five years, the number of aboriginal inmates in federal penitentiaries has increased by 43 per cent.
    While aboriginal people number only four per cent of the population, they make up 23 per cent of the inmates in federal institutions.
    In 2010-11, aboriginal women made up 32 per cent of all female federal prisoners, an increase of 85 per cent in the last ten years.

Vic Toews was asked to stop Sarnia CN blockade: emails

A national trade group for propane asked Public Safety Minister Vic Toews to step in and dismantle a CN rail blockade set up by First Nations protesters in Sarnia, Ont. last winter during the Idle No More movement, according to correspondence obtained by Global News.

The Canadian Propane Association wrote a letter to Toews “urging the federal government to take the necessary steps to remove the CN rail blockage in Sarnia, Ontario in an orderly and safe manner,” according to an email.

Rise in foreign temp workers questioned by labour groups

The Alberta Federation of Labour called for an inquiry Tuesday after it obtained a government list of more than 4,000 companies given approval to hire temporary foreign workers last year, many in the service industry.

"You look down this list and what you see is McDonald's, Tim Hortons, and Subway. This list goes on. It stretches the bounds of credibility that all of these employers have been using temporary foreign workers to hire skilled workers," said Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, on CBC News Network's Power & Politics.

Former federal Tory minister to back B.C. Liberals in May election

KELOWNA, B.C. - A former federal Conservative cabinet minister says he'll be supporting the BC Liberal Party in the upcoming provincial election.

Stockwell Day served as trade minister and public safety minister under Prime Minister Stephen Harper but didn't seek re-election in 2011.

This past October, he and former Conservative senator Gerry St. Germain told delegates at a Liberal convention that British Columbians had to unite under Premier Christy Clark to keep the New Democrats from office.

Canadian politics and the 's' word

The latest score: Neoliberalism = 824  Democratic socialism = 7

Okay, I made that up. Democratic socialism hasn't scored that many points in a long time, at least not on the federal Canadian political scene. In fact the route has been so complete, that even mention of the "s" word in considered a political liability -- and so it is, that at its upcoming policy convention the NDP will once again debate whether it should abandon any reference, prominent or otherwise, to democratic "socialism".

Why is Omar Khadr still in jail?

In 2002, Omar Khadr was captured by the Americans in Afghanistan. He was 15 years old. Eleven years later, he's still in jail, and his sentence runs for seven more years.

Last year, the Conservative government was finally forced to repatriate Omar Khadr to Canada where he is now incarcerated in Millhaven maximum security penitentiary, without access to basic education and rehabilitation programmes.

Now a new group in Vancouver, the Free Omar Khadr Committee, says it's time to release Khadr, provide for his rehabilitation and education and compensate him for violation of his rights.

Capitalism as usual: Why RBC's outsourcing isn't really a surprise

Sunday's revelation that the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) will be bringing in "temporary guest workers" to replace some of its Canadian employees captured headlines, sparking outrage and surprise, and leading many to threaten a bank boycott and move their accounts elsewhere.

The outrage is certainly understandable -- as one would think that RBC, with its more than $2 billion in first quarter profits, could afford to retain these workers -- but the surprise isn't.

 Without being condescending, I have five words for those who greeted this news with disbelief and shock: this is how capitalism works. Or, as RBC CEO Gord Nixon recently wrote in a more sanitized and politically correct manner, it simply falls in line with the bank’s dedicated commitment to "operational effectiveness."

Clark's Gas Export Optimism Floats on Cloudy Numbers

In mid-February, Premier Christy Clark told British Columbians to expect vast riches from her liquefied natural gas strategy -- up to $260 billion over the next 30 years.

"We are at a crossroads now," she told reporters at the time. The province could either "seize this incredible opportunity," Clark said, or "turn away from it."

Her Liberal government promised that LNG revenues would be used to "eliminate provincial debt," reduce personal taxes, and make "long-term investments" in "healthcare, education, employment and vital infrastructure."

Chemo drug supplier lacked overseer

The company that supplied nearly 1,200 Canadian cancer patients with diluted chemotherapy drugs operates without federal or provincial oversight, the Toronto Star has learned.

Both the Ontario College of Pharmacists and Health Canada distanced themselves from Marchese Hospital Solutions on Tuesday. The college said the Mississauga company that provided mixed chemotherapy drugs to hospitals in Ontario and New Brunswick is not an accredited pharmacy and therefore not subject to regular inspections. Health authorities in Ottawa confirmed Marchese holds no federal licences, which would trigger inspections and enforcement.

UNICEF report: Canada ranks 17th of 29 for well-being of children

If you think Canada is one of the best places to raise a child, think again.

The latest report on the well-being of children in rich countries ranks Canada 17th out of 29, a score that hasn’t budged in almost a decade, according to United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The country scored “below average” grades for child poverty and obesity and children’s life satisfaction, says the report to be released Wednesday.

EI cuts are another blow to the jobless

Just when it seemed safe to put Jim Flaherty’s surprise-loaded 2012 budget behind us, it delivered a nasty aftershock.

Labour activists knew it was coming, but most Canadians didn’t. Buried in last spring’s 425-page omnibus budget legislation was a change in employment insurance (EI) rules that will hurt thousands of laid-off workers. It took effect on April 7.

iGate: the $1-billion-a-year company at the heart of the RBC temporary foreign worker controversy

The outsourcing firm at the heart of the temporary foreign worker controversy at Canada’s largest bank is a $1-billion-a-year business with a blue-chip board of directors.

The Fremont, Calif.-based iGate Corp. among a half-dozen fast-growing firms that have built their business providing Fortune 1000 companies around the world with a lower-cost source of high-tech labour in places like India. Since 2008, the company’s revenues have quintupled, from $218 million to $1 billion last year. Profit more than tripled last year, to $95 million from $30 million in 2008.

How to save the European Union

The euro crisis has already transformed the European Union from a voluntary association of equal states into a creditor-debtor relationship from which there is no easy escape. The creditors stand to lose large sums should a member state exit the union, yet debtors are subjected to policies that deepen their depression, aggravate their debt burden and perpetuate their subordinate position. As a result, the crisis is now threatening to destroy the European Union. That would be a tragedy of historic proportions which can only be prevented with German leadership.

When the Earth Moved -- What happened to the environmental movement?

On September 20, 1969, Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, gave a lightly publicized speech in Seattle in which he remarked, “I am convinced that the same concern the youth of this nation took in changing this nation’s priorities on the war in Vietnam and on civil rights can be shown for the problem of the environment. That is why I plan to see to it that a national teach-in is held.” Nelson had been pushing environmental issues for some years, initially worried that water pollution was hurting fishing, canoeing, and other forms of outdoor recreation in his state. In 1963, as a freshman senator, he persuaded President John F. Kennedy to stage a national “conservation tour” to talk about the issue. Kennedy visited eleven states in five days, just two months before his assassination, but the trip was a bust: anemic crowds, little attention, and not much obvious passion from Kennedy himself.

Neruda, Pinochet, and the Iron Lady

It’s curious, historically speaking, that Margaret Thatcher died on the same day that forensic specialists, in Chile, exhumed the remains of the late, great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. The author of the epic “Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair” and the winner of the 1971 Nobel Prize in Literature, Neruda died at the age of sixty-nine, supposedly of prostate cancer, just twelve days after the violent September 11, 1973, military coup launched by army chief Augusto Pinochet against the country’s elected Socialist President, Salvador Allende. Warplanes had strafed the Presidential palace, and Allende had bravely held out, but committed suicide with a rifle given to him by Cuba’s President Fidel Castro as Pinochet’s goons stormed into the Presidential palace. Neruda was a close friend and supporter of Allende’s; he was ill, but in the midst of planning to leave the country for Mexico, where he had been invited to go into exile. When he was on his deathbed in a clinic, his home had been broken into by soldiers and trashed.

Air Pollution From Traffic Linked With Childhood Cancer

There is a link between exposure to traffic pollution during pregnancy and risk of childhood cancer, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research.

Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that women who were exposed to high levels of traffic pollution (emissions from cars and trucks) while they were pregnant also had higher risks of their children going on to develop pediatric cancers, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia and retinoblastoma.

Obama’s drone war kills ‘others,’ not just al Qaida leaders

WASHINGTON — Contrary to assurances it has deployed U.S. drones only against known senior leaders of al Qaida and allied groups, the Obama administration has targeted and killed hundreds of suspected lower-level Afghan, Pakistani and unidentified “other” militants in scores of strikes in Pakistan’s rugged tribal area, classified U.S. intelligence reports show.

The administration has said that strikes by the CIA’s missile-firing Predator and Reaper drones are authorized only against “specific senior operational leaders of al Qaida and associated forces” involved in the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks who are plotting “imminent” violent attacks on Americans.

Nearly 100 Percent Of American Women In Jobs That Typically Pay Men More

If you insist on celebrating Equal Pay Day, just admit it's in name only. Because as late as 2011, 97 percent of full-time working women were in jobs that typically paid men more, an analysis by the Center For American Progress revealed today.

Certain professions exhibit particularly drastic gender pay gaps. Take female chief executives, who earn only 69 percent as much as their male counterparts. These 245,000 female chief executives end up earning an average of $658 less per week than the 745,000 men in their profession.

Arkansas Senate Votes To Axe Planned Parenthood, Sex Ed Funding

The Arkansas Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood and effectively kills a comprehensive sex education program in the state's public high schools.

Arkansas Senate Bill 818, introduced by state Rep. Gary Stubblefield (R-Branch), would block all state funds from going to any entity that provides abortions or refers patients to other abortion providers. The bill would also prohibit any organization that contracts with an abortion provider or referrer, including power companies, water companies, health insurers or medical suppliers, from receiving any state money. Supporters of the bill argue that it prevents taxpayer money from indirectly paying for abortion and abortion referrals.

Syrian Rebel Unit Torturing Civilians, Opposition Group Claims

BEIRUT, April 9 (Reuters) - The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights on Tuesday accused a rebel battalion of torturing civilians and extorting money from them in Syria's northern city of Aleppo.

Torture, kidnapping and summary killings have become a daily aspect of Syria's uprising-turned-civil war.

Student Loan Rates Boost Government Profit As Debt Damps Economy

BOSTON -- Millions of student borrowers are paying record relative interest rates on their government loans, lining Department of Education coffers and stoking fears that student borrowing costs and debt levels are restraining the shaky economic recovery.

Policy makers, legislators and student advocates have been warning about the economic dangers posed by increasing student debt levels, which at $1.1 trillion exceeds all other consumer debt except for home mortgages. Some have warned that student debt is holding back the economy and risks hurting future credit creation.

The GOP's Drug-Testing Dragnet

The annual Drug & Alcohol Testing Industry Association (DATIA) conference, held in 2012 in San Antonio, Texas, looks like any other industry gathering. The 600 or so attendees sip their complimentary Starbucks coffee, munch on small plates of muffins and fresh fruit, and backslap old acquaintances as they file into a sprawling Marriott hotel conference hall. They will hear a keynote address by Robert DuPont, who served as drug policy director under Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford. Nothing odd about any of this until you consider that the main subject of the conference is urine.

2.3 Million Petitioners Urge Rejection of 'Chained-CPI' Social Security Cut

US Senator Bernie Sanders, Congressman Mark Takano, Congressman Mark Pocan, Congressman Rick Nolan and leaders of organizations that oppose President Obama's anticipated assault on Social Security went to the White House Tuesday to present petitions signed by 2.3-million Americans who reject the president's proposal for “chained-CPI.”

The "chained-CPI" scheme would restructure cost-of-living adjustments in a way that cuts Social Security benefits for millions of seniors and veterans.

How Did Margaret Thatcher Do It?

On the day Margaret Thatcher resigned my brother was stuck in the London Underground. The dispatcher informed them over the intercom that there train would hopefully be moving in another few minutes. The carriage groaned. Then he informed them of the prime minister’s resignation. Two thirds of them started cheering and clapping.

With the exception of the immediate aftermath of the Falklands war, Thatcher was never a massively popular politician. She never won more than 44 percent of the vote, though in Britain’s winner-takes-all parliamentary system that was enough to secure massive majorities. Her reign over the country was partial. She left her party decimated in Scotland, the North of England and most urban centers, relying on her electoral fiefdom in the South, the Midlands and rural areas. She was divisive, apparently revelling in the acrimony engendered by massive strikes, riots, hunger strikes and economic upheaval for which she was in no small part responsible. She was authoritarian, abolishing the city’s elected authorities because they opposed her agenda and banning Sinn Fein representatives’ voices from the television because they advocated armed resistance to the British occupation of Northern Ireland. (For six tedious years they would be shown with the lips moving, the sound of their voice turned down and their words read by actors). She was a crude majoritarian who never had the support of the majority and became a liability even to her allies. Her political career perished when she was shot by her own troops who tired of her leading them into reckless battle.

Did Mitch McConnell Use Senate Employees for Oppo Research on Ashley Judd?

A secret recording of Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and aides discussing in February how they might attack actor/activist Ashley Judd, then a potential 2014 challenger to McConnell, attracted widespread attention after Mother Jones published it Tuesday morning. Much of the news coverage focused on the McConnell team's comments about Judd's religious views and her mental-health history. But the tape might raise ethics questions for McConnell and his staff.

Idle No More movement ‘different’ from anything the government had ever seen before, documents reveal

OTTAWA — On Dec. 12, an Aboriginal Affairs communications worker emailed his regional director about ongoing Idle No More protests.

“What do you mean ‘idle no more’?,” Atlantic region director Ian Gray responded to Steve Young’s email.

Alison Redford Keystone XL Speech In Washington Interrupted By Protest

Alberta Premier Alison Redford was interrupted by protesters in Washington Tuesday, as she spoke in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Redford shrugged off the disturbance, saying the protesters have valid concerns.

"Not everyone is always going to agree," said Redford after the incident. "I think the important part is that we share a common platform.. a place where we can have that conversation."

John Baird’s ‘English only’ business cards violated language law, says watchdog

OTTAWA – Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird has joined his cabinet colleague International Cooperation Minister Julian Fantino under the microscope of Parliament’s language watchdog over separate “English only” controversies.

While Fantino is under investigation over a directive for bureaucrats to send him correspondence for review in English only, a new report by Official Languages Commissioner Graham Fraser said Baird’s Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade had violated its obligations under federal language legislation by printing English only business cards for the minister.

Canadian Forces face danger pay cuts in Afghanistan

The federal government is reducing danger pay for Canadian military personnel who are currently serving in Afghanistan on training missions, saying that the country is not as dangerous as it used to be, according to CBC's French-language sister broadcaster.

Starting in mid-April, the cut in danger pay will result in a loss of about $500 a month, Radio-Canada reports.

Israeli Journalist Amira Hass Sparks Furor at Home for Defending Palestinian Right to Resist

Amira Hass, the only Jewish-Israeli journalist to have spent almost 20 years living in and reporting from Gaza and the West Bank, recently suffered a torrent of hate mail and calls for her prosecution after she wrote an article defending the right of Palestinians to resist violent occupation. In the article, Hass defended the throwing of stones by Palestinian youth at Israeli soldiers, calling it "the birthright and duty of anyone subject to foreign rule." Hass said Israelis remain in denial about "how much violence is used on a daily basis against Palestinians. They don’t like to be told that someone has the right to resist their violence." Hass joins us to discuss the reaction to her piece and her response to the latest regional visit by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Despite vows to revive peace talks and free up the Palestinian economy, Hass says the Obama administration wants to preserve the status-quo of occupation.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Most of us are happy at 29 … but maybe not Alberta's premier

Most of us are happy at 29. The world is our oyster. The future looks bright.

Alison Redford at 29? Not so good.

But then, we’re talking percentage points here, not years.

A 29-per-cent approval rating is a problem.

The Alberta premier was in Washington, D.C., yesterday trotting out the line heard recently at the Manning Centre "Big Ideas" Conference that a pipeline full of Alberta bitumen might actually be doing Earth a big favour on the planetary warming front.

Tim Hudak lays out his vision for Ontario at fundraiser

Tory Leader Tim Hudak says he has the right vision for Ontario.

He told his annual fundraising dinner it includes bringing unions to heel, getting rid of “expensive gold-standard” public pensions, new subways, introducing performance levels for bureaucrats, freezing public-sector wages for two years, and giving tax breaks for employers.

“We will modernize our labour laws so that no worker will be forced to join a union as a condition for taking a job. And no business will be forced to hire a company solely because it has a unionized workforce,” he said.

Ottawa threatens to use courts in bid to get CBC tax evasion list

HALIFAX—Ottawa will use the courts to try to get the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to hand over leaked data naming people who have allegedly used offshore tax havens, National Revenue Minister Gail Shea said Tuesday.

Shea said she has asked the CBC for the information but it has refused, so now the department will pursue legal means in a bid to get the list.

The problem of international aid in a post-CIDA Canada

The federal government has made an unfortunate error in transferring responsibility for development assistance to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, a department incapable of delivering this service.

Canada’s foreign aid program is made up of two distinct components.

The first, humanitarian assistance, or disaster relief, is meant to respond to immediate crises. Whether it is an earthquake, a tsunami, or a toxic spill, there are times when even the most prosperous peoples can be overwhelmed. In such circumstances, states like Canada step in to help.

Harper's style starts to chafe

Mert Taylor is an unlikely rebel.

A self-described cowboy from southwest Saskatchewan, Mr. Taylor rode the range for the Prairie Farm Rehabilitation Administration for more than four decades, looking after community pastures. Like most people who live close to Saskatchewan's historic grasslands, the years of literally watching the grass grow have left an indelible mark on the man.

But changes in the way the federal government is treating that land has him uncharacteristically speaking up. In a feature article by naturalist Trevor Herriot published in the Globe and Mail, Mr. Taylor says that ending the PFRA's stewardship over the community pasture threatens the biodiversity that was protected on the government-owned land.

Muzzling scientists is an assault on democracy

Access to information is a basic foundation of democracy. Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms also gives us “freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication.”

We must protect these rights. As we alter the chemical, physical and biological properties of the biosphere, we face an increasingly uncertain future, and the best information we have to guide us comes from science. That scientists – and even librarians – are speaking out against what appear to be increasing efforts to suppress information shows we have cause for concern. The situation has become so alarming that Canada’s Information Commissioner is investigating seven government departments in response to a complaint that they’re “muzzling” scientists.

The Way of the Knife: NYT’s Mark Mazzetti on the CIA’s Post-9/11 Move from Spying to Assassinations

In his new book, "The Way of the Knife: The CIA, a Secret Army, and a War at the Ends of the Earth," Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter Mark Mazzetti tracks the transformation of the CIA and U.S. special operations forces into man-hunting and killing machines in the world’s dark spaces: the new American way of war. The book’s revelations include disclosing that the Pakistani government agreed to allow the drone attacks in return for the CIA’s assassination of Pakistani militant Nek Muhammad, who was not even a target of the United States. Mazzetti’s reporting on the violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan — and Washington’s response — won him a Pulitzer Prize in 2009. The year before, he was a Pulitzer finalist for his reporting on the CIA’s detention and interrogation program.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

iGate, Company At Heart Of RBC Foreign Workers Controversy, Defends Business Practices

TORONTO - The multinational company at the centre of the Royal Bank of Canada's controversial decision to outsource dozens of Toronto jobs is defending its business practices.

iGate says it will "fully co-operate" with a government investigation into its efforts to bring workers into Canada under the temporary foreign worker program so those employees could train at RBC for services they will be providing to the bank.

Rehtaeh Parsons Suicide: Halifax Teen Kills Herself After Alleged Rape, Online Bullying

Halifax teenager Rehtaeh Parsons was taken off life-support on Sunday, the end of yet another tragic case of cyber bullying.

Parsons was the victim of an alleged gang rape and online bullying campaign over the last few months, according to a post from her mother, Leah Parsons, on a Facebook memorial page. The trauma of the rape and ongoing bullying caused depression and suicidal thoughts. Parsons tried to hang herself last week, according to the Chronicle Herald.

Alberta premier returns to D.C. to lobby for Keystone XL pipeline

WASHINGTON -- Alberta Premier Alison Redford says she's not a proponent of any individual resource project, even as she works the Washington corridors in favour of the Keystone XL pipeline.

The Alberta government paid to take out a large ad in the Washington Post newspaper today that called the proposed $7-billion pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast the "choice of reason."