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 24, 2013

Fox News Attacks Muslims Relentlessly In Wake Of Boston Bombing

In the days following the Boston Marathon bombings, Fox News has become a haven for talk about the extreme threats posed to the United States by Muslims. Day after day, the network's hosts and pundits have warned about an Islamic menace which is poised to take down the country.

At the most extreme has been "Fox News liberal" Bob Beckel, whose call on "The Five" to bar or severely restrict Muslim students from coming into America seemed to startle even Dana Perino, George Bush's former spokeswoman. Beckel stuck by his comments on Tuesday, saying that some of the 75,000 Muslim students in American schools are likely to harbor terrorist ambitions.

Lawmaker Unemployment Hearing Attended By Single Member of Congress At Opening

WASHINGTON -- More than five years since the start of the Great Recession, unemployment remains a major economic problem in the United States, with long-term unemployment among its most stubborn aspects.

Nobody told Congress.

Unemployment dangerously low

For most people, an unemployment rate of about 7%, while well below its recession peak of 8.7%, still reflects an unacceptable degree of slack in the labour market. This leads some to advocate further government action to stimulate the economy and create jobs, and others to more extreme calls to limit immigration.

A closer look shows that the unemployment rate already is unusually low, especially after a sub-par recovery from recession. Moreover, unemployment may be lower than the headlines suggest. This leaves employers facing widespread labour shortages and the economy vulnerable to upward pressure on wages and prices.
Start with the unemployment rate in Canada. For all of 2012, it averaged 7.2% using the conventional rate calculated by Statistics Canada. So far in 2013, it has been 7.1%. These are historically low levels by any standard. Quarterly unemployment never fell below 7% in the 1980s and 1990s, and only dipped below it during the resource boom before the 2008 recession. At a similar point in the recovery from the recessions in the early 1980s and 1990s, the unemployment rate was still near 10%. Considering the sub-par growth rate in the current recovery, this shows that unemployment already is at an exceptionally low level.

Now, instead of the conventional measure of unemployment, calculate Canada’s unemployment rate by applying U.S. concepts (basically, they are a little more hard-nosed about what constitutes job search and exclude 15-year-olds). By this measure, Canada’s unemployment rate last year would have been 6.3%, nearly a full percentage point lower than the headline rate.

Remember, the U.S. Federal Reserve Board has said it will start tightening monetary policy when unemployment reaches 6.5%. So Canada’s unemployment rate, using the same yardstick as the U.S., already is below the level that would induce the Fed to tighten.

Moreover, from a macroeconomic standpoint, the underlying rate of unemployment may be closer to 5% than 6%. Joblessness is concentrated in two groups with double-digit unemployment rates, teenagers and recent immigrants. Last year, youths aged 15 to 19 had an unemployment rate of 20.1%, while for recent immigrants (in the country for five years or less) it was 13.5%. I am not sure how much of a social problem unemployed teens represent, but clearly it is not something which needs the heavy artillery of ultra low interest rates. For recent immigrants, we will see if recent government reforms improve the integration of immigrants into our labour market, but the problem should be addressed with specific policies aimed at this group, not the economy-wide tools of monetary or fiscal policy.

Together, teens and recent immigrants account for a full percentage point of total unemployment. Using the U.S. concept of unemployment, and then subtracting the impact of teenagers and recent immigrants from unemployment, and suddenly you are looking at an unemployment rate of 5.2%, at which point alarm bells have to start sounding (there is a small amount of overlap in excluding 15-year-olds from both the U.S. definition and from teens, but this is inconsequential to the argument).

This has major implications for policy formulation. Instead of maintaining budget deficits and low interest rates to dampen unemployment, it would be better if specific policies targeted the problems of teens and immigrants, or even other groups with above-average unemployment rates like Aboriginals or the disabled.

That the macroeconomy is a lot closer to full capacity than many think is supported by the widespread complaints from the business community that labour is in short supply. Early this year, the Chamber of Commerce characterized worsening shortages as “desperate” and a threat to future growth. We are already seeing a sustained upward trend in real wages, with average hourly earnings up 3.0% in the past year, close to its peak rate of 3.2% at the height of the boom early in 2008. This is another reason why the Bank of Canada should be unwinding its ultra easy monetary policy and starting to raise interest rates, never mind the damage these policies are doing to the economy’s allocation of capital.

How can unemployment be dangerously low when we just saw another quarter of sluggish growth in GDP? Partly, the slack in GDP represents transitory factors. But mostly, this is the new normal in labour markets, as the population ages and people leave the labour force. The labour force participation rate has fallen steadily since 2008, its longest and most pronounced slide on record. The impact of aging is easily seen. While the participation rates of both primed aged adults and people over 55 years are rising, the overall participation rate is falling because people are moving rapidly into the latter group, who have a much lower rate of being active in the labour force.

A declining participation rate also has been the major factor lowering unemployment in the U.S. from 10% to below 8%, despite an even weaker recovery than in Canada. If, heaven forbid, growth ever began to pick-up, the pressure on labour markets could quickly lead to a jump in wages.

Instead of striving to buttress aggregate demand, which only aggravates labour shortages, more attention should be placed on boosting labour supply. This includes a better job of integrating people who are often marginalized in the labour force, like the very young and the very old, as well as immigrants and Aboriginals. Soon, Canada will need the contributions of all its peoples to sustain non-inflationary growth.

Original Article
Author: Philip Cross

Via terror plot suspect tracked by RCMP for a year

The RCMP had been following one of the two suspects accused of trying to carry out an al-Qaeda supported plot to derail a Via passenger train for almost a year, CBC News has learned.

Sources told CBC’s Power & Politics host Evan Solomon that the RCMP had tracked Chiheb Esseghaier, 30, of Montreal, since May 2012. At that time, two undercover surveillance officers watched him on an Air Canada flight to Cancun where he was to attend a biomedical conference.

Toronto court rules woman must remove niqab to testify

An Ontario judge has ruled a woman must remove her niqab to testify in a Toronto sexual assault case.
Justice Norris Weisman announced his decision after applying a new test set out by the Supreme Court of Canada dealing with witnesses wearing a veil.

The woman at the centre of the case is known only as N.S.

Ontario working to preserve freshwater research area cut by Ottawa

TORONTO - Ontario has found common ground with the federal government and Manitoba to keep a world-famous experimental freshwater research area open, Premier Kathleen Wynne said Wednesday.

It will provide "operating support" and work toward an agreement so the research conducted in the Experimental Lakes Area near Kenora can continue, she said.

Deportations Continue As Congress Seeks Immigration Reform

WASHINGTON -- Brenda Guzman-Sandoval, a married mother of five U.S. citizens, was deported earlier this month after advocacy efforts to keep her in the United States failed. Jose Luis Martinez was deported in September of last year to Honduras, a place he hadn’t known since he left as a child more than two decades ago. Mirna Valenzuela was sent back to Mexico in December when a Tucson, Ariz. casino reported her to police after she won a $1,200 jackpot. Felipe Montes, the father of three U.S. citizen children, was deported to Mexico in 2010, and his children were put in foster care after his wife became unable to care for them. He more recently won custody of his kids, but was barred from remaining in the U.S. despite appeals to the federal government.

Terror In Canada: Tories Say Arrest Timing Wasn't Political

OTTAWA - The Conservative government says it had nothing to do with the timing of the arrests of two terror suspects, after a lawyer for one of the accused men raised questions about the politics involved.

"If I were a lawyer, I wouldn't go down the track of conspiracy theories if I wanted to have credibility," said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, who said he was first briefed on the arrests Monday afternoon.

"Timelines for operational matters are dictated by our security and law enforcement agencies only, and we trust the good work that they do," said Julie Carmichael, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Vic Toews.

The rail plot and the terror bill: Opportunism knocks

The press conference called to announce criminal charges against a pair of alleged railway bombing conspirators inspired by al-Qaida had an air of opportunism.

Where did the odour come from? Is the source to be found in Ottawa’s eagerness to capitalize on the sudden continental anxiety over home-grown terrorism? Or is it in Washington’s rush to tidy up its case files after it was discovered that the FBI interviewed Boston Marathon bomber number one — and then let him go free to kill innocent Americans?

Hugh Segal’s courageous fight for a guaranteed annual income

As yet another round of malicious, insulting, and degrading political attack ads hits the airwaves in the wake of Justin Trudeau’s accession to the Liberal Party leadership, it is worth recalling that it is not impossible for today’s Conservatives to combine partisanship with dignity.

Although his party might be putting forth its very worst, Senator Hugh Segal continues to demonstrate that politics can still be a source for good.

Hospital medication supplier has operated without government oversight for nearly 30 years

One of Canada’s oldest and largest suppliers of pre-mixed hospital medications has been operating without provincial or federal oversight for nearly 30 years, the Star has learned.

And it has done so in the very same grey zone that saw more than 1,200 Canadian cancer patients receive diluted drugs from Marchese Hospital Solutions. The medication error, made public earlier this month, left health authorities scrambling to address startling gaps in industry oversight that have gone unaddressed for what now appears to be much longer than officials realized.

NDP, Liberals suspicious of timing on alleged terrorism plot arrests Monday and anti-terrorism bill debate in House

PARLIAMENT HILL—The New Democrats and Liberals say they suspect the federal government may have had an advantage Monday when it began debate over controversial anti-terrorism legislation at the same time—disclosed only later in the day—that the RCMP were planning a news conference to disclose the first arrests on alleged terrorism-related charges in Canada since 2010.

But a spokesman for Government House Leader Peter Van Loan (York-Simcoe, Ont.) told The Hill Times that Mr. Van Loan, who suddenly added the Anti-Terrorism Bill S-7 to Monday’s House agenda last Friday, that Mr. Van Loan was unaware of the impending arrests when he decided to bring up the bill for its final round of debate.

Why BC's Lower-wage Workers Are Struggling

B.C. has acquired the dubious "distinction" of being home to Canada's largest income gap, highest poverty rate, and second highest child poverty rate. It also has greater employment insecurity and lower hourly wages than the national average, even though B.C. is the province with the highest cost of living in Canada.

How has this occurred in such a rich province, where many are clearly doing very well?

Minister at Sea: Peter MacKay's Latest Folly

Peter MacKay is no stranger to maritime pubs. He could probably recite the words of Stan Rogers' Barrett's Privateers while drunk and standing on his head. But does Canada's defence minister realize that he's fast becoming the 21st-century version of Elcid Barrett, who led a group of blindly ambitious men on a dangerous folly?

The problem concerns the Royal Canadian Navy's long-promised Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships ("A/OPS"), which are due to be built in Halifax and based there and in Esquimalt, B.C. The A/OPS are the new "Antelope," Barrett's 18th-century sloop that the song describes as a "sickening sight" with "a list to the port and her sails in rags."

Polls 'Don't Predict the Future'

Election polls are fun. They can help you understand why politicians do and say the things they do. They can help you decide how to vote. And as long as the parties have access to polling, you should too.

But, as campaign polls proliferate like dandelions in April, they also become the source of a vast amount of the hooey that gets spewed by pundits.

Pollster Bob Penner has a long history of working for election campaigns. In a recent interview, he said the "literacy around polling" is pretty low.

Fact-busting HRSDC's 'just the facts' on EI changes

Attempts by the Harper government to set the record straight over recent changes to EI simply gloss over many valid concerns that have been expressed by critics. I share a couple of EI Change Fact-Busters in solidarity with upcoming rallies on EI that will be taking place across Canada this weekend.

Minister Finley states: "No one will have to take a job that puts them in a worse financial position than collecting EI alone."

Fact: The majority of EI claimants will have to accept 20-30 per cent lower wages, outside their usual profession, after only 6 weeks of job search.

Has Alberta pioneered an unlegislated ban on collective bargaining?

As is well known, Advanced Education Minister Thomas Lukaszuk has sent a letter to the boards of all of Alberta post-secondary institutions instructing them on what their bargaining position and final wage offer must be in negotiations with their faculty associations and staff unions.

The position can be summed up in the phrase, now frequently heard on college and university campuses throughout the province, "Zero, zero, zero."

Oh, wait -- and I mean that literally -- after three years of nothing you can ask nicely for a 2-per-cent raise. If you're lucky, and unlike Athabasca University your institution's administration hasn't spent its reserves into oblivion, you might get something.

Canada won’t close gender gap for 228 years at current pace

Women in Canada are as healthy and educated as men, but gender equality plummets when it comes to economic and political opportunities, according to a new study.

Even though six of Canada’s provinces and territories have female premiers, women’s representation in politics and on corporate boards has grown by just 2.3 per cent in the past two decades, says the study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released Tuesday.

RCMP grapples with questions of FBI authority in Canada

In the wake of a dramatic RCMP reveal of two people arrested in Canada in connection with a plot to derail a passenger train, Canadians may have questioned why the United States Department of Homeland Security and the US Federal Bureau of Investigation were involved in the operation.

Those who have followed the quiet evolution of Canada-US cross-border policing, however, weren’t surprised. Law enforcement agencies in Canada and the US are now working together in an unprecedented way, says the RCMP—and the two countries are hammering out a plan to let agents in both countries drive back and forth across the border as though it wasn’t there.

The great pipeline debate: It’s not about us

“Since Diefenbaker, Canadians have been last in line for their own resources,” says Gordon Laxer, political economist, founding director and former head of the Parkland Institute at the University of Alberta.

They’re about to go to the back of the line again. A new poll by Nanos Research reports that North American energy security trumps concerns about climate change almost equally among Canadians and Americans.

Senator shows why ‘sober second thought’ matters

Normally a speech in the Senate would attract as much attention as an avalanche in Antarctica. But on April 16, word filtered out that Opposition Leader James Cowan had something important to say.

Economist Armine Yalniznyan, tipped off in advance, listened.

Cowan delivered the kind of speech rarely heard in Parliament these days. It was sweeping in its scope and rich in detail. Having practised law for four decades before his Senate appointment, Cowan knew how to build a case, back it up with credible evidence and use his rhetorical skills to hold the attention of his audience. When he reached the end, six Conservative senators joined their Liberal colleagues in applauding.

Plan for Pentagon-style defence hub at former Nortel campus falters

OTTAWA—It was a grand plan to build Canada’s version of the Pentagon.

But today, Ottawa’s ambitious project to transform the sprawling office campus of failed tech giant Nortel Networks into a new hub for the defence department appears stalled because of a costly renovation bill, the military’s own internal shakeup and gripes from those in uniform about its location in the city’s west end.

Justin Trudeau TV ads make pitch to end negativity

OTTAWA—Justin Trudeau has gone back to the classroom to reply to Conservative attack ads, releasing ads of his own that show him sitting at teacher’s desk, turning off the TV and asking for an end to negativity in politics.

A little more than a week after the Conservatives unleashed their broadcast assault on Trudeau, complete with carnival music and mockery of his fitness to govern, the Liberals have fired back with their own broadcast reply.

BC Election 2013: Health Care Debate Avoided By Premier, NDP

VANCOUVER - Nobody should be surprised the province's politicians are skirting the issue of public-private health care during the election campaign, says a professor from the University of British Columbia.

Premier Christy Clark and New Democratic Party health critic Mike Farnworth were pressed by reporters Tuesday on a constitutional challenge by Vancouver Dr. Brian Day who's fighting a provincial law that prohibits him from billing patients for services covered by the public health-care system.

Families Spend More On Tax Than Necessities: Report

Canadians spend more money on taxes than basic necessities, according to a report by the Fraser Institute.

Roughly 43 per cent of an average family's income was spent on taxes last year, compared to 37 per cent on food, shelter and clothing, the report said.

Canada Privacy Breaches: More Than A Million Canadians May Have Had Data Compromised

OTTAWA — More than a million Canadians may have had their private information compromised by data breaches within the federal government over the last ten years, an analysis by The Huffington Post Canada suggests.

Prompted by a question from NDP MP Charlie Angus, the government was forced to acknowledge this week that at the very least, there were 1,072,999 instances where a Canadian’s private information held by various departments and agencies was lost, stolen or accessed by an unauthorized third party.

Lew Won't Adopt Geithner's Stand Against Wall Street Deregulation Bills

Last year, then-Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner slammed a series of bills that would have deregulated Wall Street banks. But this year, as a slate of nearly identical bills is being considered by the House Financial Services Committee, newly minted Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has declined to oppose them.

The bills are presented as technical fixes to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Financial Reform Act, which was aimed at preventing another 2008-style financial crisis. Most of them aren't. One bill would allow certain derivatives that are traded among a corporation's various affiliates to be exempt from almost all new Dodd-Frank regulations. Another measure would expand the types of trading risks that banks can take on. Yet a third bill would allow big multinational US banks to escape US regulations by operating through international arms. Etc. Etc.

How Much Danger Do We Face From Homegrown Jihadist Terrorists?

Perhaps the most unusual thing about the Boston Marathon bombing is that it happened at all. While we've seen all manner of terrorist bomb plots since September 11—the Times Square bomber, the underwear bomber, even the guys who fantasized about destroying the Sears Tower—all have been thwarted by the FBI, the perpetrators' own bumbling, or both. If one or both of the suspects in last week's attack, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were motivated by radical Islamic beliefs, then they will have the dubious distinction of being the first domestic jihadists to have set off a bomb on American soil since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.

The Education of Michael Bloomberg

In 2008, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his schools chancellor at the time, Joel Klein, testified before Congress that their policies had led to a substantial narrowing of the racial achievement gap, meaning the gap in test scores between white students and those of color: “Over the past six years, we’ve done everything possible to narrow the achievement gap—and we have. In some cases, we’ve reduced it by half,” said Bloomberg. He repeated that claim in 2012, saying, “We have closed the gap between black and Latino kids and white and Asian kids,” he said. “We have cut it in half.”

277 Million Boston Bombings

The horror of Boston should be a reminder that the choice of weaponry can be in itself an act of evil. “Boston Bombs Were Loaded to Maim” is the way The New York Times defined the hideousness of the weapons used, and President Obama made clear that “anytime bombs are used to target innocent civilians, it is an act of terror.” But are we as a society prepared to be judged by that standard?

The president’s deployment of drones that all too often treat innocent civilians as collateral damage comes quickly to mind. It should also be pointed out that the US still maintains a nuclear arsenal and, as our killing and wounding hundreds of thousands of innocent Japanese demonstrated, those weapons are inherently, by the president’s definition, weapons of terror. But it is America’s role in the deployment of antipersonnel land mines, and our country’s refusal to sign off on a ban on cluster munitions agreed to by most of the world’s nations, that offers the most glaring analogy with the carnage of Boston.

Walmart Workers Plan Wednesday Scheduling Showdowns in 150 Stores

On Wednesday, workers in at least 150 Walmart stores plan to confront local managers with demands for change in the retail giant’s scheduling system.

Scheduling issues have been a recurring focus for the union-backed retail workers group OUR Walmart since its founding. Workers have charged that insufficient and erratic work schedules consign them to poverty, wreak havoc on their personal lives and shortchange customer service. At an October forum, backroom receiving associate Lori Amos said that because of understaffing at her Washington State store, 2,000 pounds of Halloween candy didn’t make it onto the shelves until it had expired and changed color.

Retail and Fast Food Workers Strike in Chicago's Magnificent Mile

Chicago’s downtown Loop area is the heart of commerce in the city. But beginning at 5:30 A.M. today, fast food and retail workers there have gone on strike, following New York City fast food workers who walked off the job in November and again earlier this month demanding higher wages and better working conditions.

Organizers estimate about 500 workers, uniting under the name of the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, will be striking today in industries long associated with low wages but unaccustomed to labor unrest. The campaign, backed by a coalition of Chicago unions and community organizations, has the lofty goal of winning a raise to $15 per hour for workers who make up nearly one-third of all jobs in the city.

How the 1 Percent Rules

Anyone walking around New York City, visitor or resident, might think the place had been laid out by the chaotic mind of the market. In fact, the place has been planned over the last century by monied interests, first among them the real estate developers who build and own the results of the plans, in tight alliance with local government.

If you’re not clued in to those plans, you’d have little idea of the forces behind the transformation of downtown Brooklyn over the last several years. You might be surprised by the recent arrival of an Armani Exchange on the Fulton Mall, a very busy retail strip hitherto known for selling basics to the borough’s working class. Look behind the A|X and you’ll see a rising forest of “luxury” high-rises in a neighborhood hitherto known for low-rise buildings of modest economic aspiration. Anyone wondering how these came to be would probably answer with the all-purpose response for our time: “market forces.”

Rand Paul Backs Drone Killing Of Hypothetical Armed Robber

Marking an abrupt shift in tone from his epic March filibuster, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said late Monday that he would be fine with a drone killing a run-of-the-mill armed robber.

"Here's the distinction: I have never argued against any technology being used when you have an imminent threat, an act of crime going on," Paul said on Fox Business Network. "If someone comes out of a liquor store with a weapon and $50 in cash, I don't care if a drone kills him or a policeman kills him. But it's different if they want to come fly over your hot tub or your yard just because they want to do surveillance on everyone, and they want to watch your activities."

As Obama Shuns Hearing, Yemeni Says U.S. Drone War Terrifying Civilians, Empowering Militants

Six days after the U.S. bombed his village, Yemeni activist Farea al-Muslimi testified on Capitol Hill about the terror of the U.S. drone wars. Al-Muslimi spoke during the Senate’s first-ever public hearing on the Obama administration’s targeted killing program. His family’s village was hit by a U.S. drone strike last week. The White House refused to send an official to defend the program’s legality. "When they think of America, they think of the terror they feel from the drones that hover over their heads, ready to fire missiles at any time," al-Muslimi says of his fellow Yemenis. "What the violent militants had previously failed to achieve, one drone strike accomplished in an instant." Others to testify at the hearing included law scholars and members of the U.S. military.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -- 

Wisconsin Planned Parenthood Clinics Begin Closing After State Eliminates Funding

Planned Parenthood began the process of shuttering a number of its Wisconsin clinics late last week, a move the women's health provider says is due to a measure pushed by Gov. Scott Walker (R) and state Republicans to strip it of state funding.

On Friday, the Planned Parenthood clinic in Shawano, Wis., closed its doors, Fox 11 reported, becoming the first of four planned closures announced in February.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev, Boston Bombing Suspect, Listed On Classified Government Watch List

WASHINGTON, April 23 (Reuters) - The name of one of the Boston Marathon bombing suspects, Tamerlan Tsarnaev, was listed on the U.S. government's highly classified central database of people it views as potential terrorists. But the list is so vast that this did not mean authorities automatically kept close tabs on him, sources close to the bombing investigation said on Tuesday.

Web censorship: the net is closing in

Every state in the world has its own laws, cultural norms and accepted behaviours. As billions of people come online in the next decade, many will discover a newfound independence that will test these boundaries. Each state will attempt to regulate the internet, and shape it in its own image.

The majority of the world's internet users encounter some form of censorship – also known by the euphemism "filtering" – but what that actually looks like depends on a country's policies and its technological infrastructure. Not all or even most of that filtering is political censorship; progressive countries routinely block a modest number of sites, such as those featuring child pornography.

Food Bank Trussell Trust Sees Demand Go Up Five-Fold Since Coalition Came To Power

The number of people using food banks has increased five-fold since the coalition came to power, and nearly tripled over the last year, with almost 350,000 people receiving emergency parcels from the Trussell Trust, the largest food bank provider in the UK.

According to figures from the charity, 30% of people using their service over the last year were referred as a result of benefit delays and 15% because of benefit changes.

Westminster, One Of UK's Most Expensive Boroughs, 'More Violent Than Birmingham'

It is home to Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament and a recently sold £250m property - but Westminster has more violent crime than the UK's second largest city, Birmingham, according to a report.

The top 17 least peaceful local authority areas were London boroughs - the worst being Lewisham, Lambeth, Hackney, Newham and Tower Hamlets, theUK Peace Index, from the Institute for Economics and Peace, has revealed.

Spain unemployment continues to soar

Spain's jobless rate has continued to rise in the first quarter but at a slower rate than in previous years, Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has said.

The job situation for the entire year "will not be good, but it will be less bad than in the preceding years", he added during a debate in parliament on Wednesday.

Violence erupts in China's restive Xinjiang

Twenty-one people, including police officers and social workers, have been killed in violent clashes in China's ethnically divided western region of Xinjiang in what the government is calling an act of terrorism.

Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas said on Wednesday police were investigating an arson attack in the region where the violence began.

"The region has been the focal point for ethnic and racial tensions for quite some time now," Ortigas said.

‘Growing hatred of US’: Yemeni testifies to Senate on drone program fallout

Washington’s drone war has turned Yemenis against the US and sparked “intense anger and hatred,” which Al-Qaeda has exploited for recruitment, according to witness testimony at the Senate’s first public hearing about the legality of drone strikes.

Yemeni writer Farea Al-Muslimi has revealed the shock and hatred felt towards the US after a drone bombed his home, the village of Wessab: “The attack terrified thousands of simple, poor farmers,” Muslimi told the Senate Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights in its hearing titled ‘Drone Wars: The Constitutional and Counterterrorism Implications of Targeted Killing.’

NATO drowning amid austerity and lack of purpose?

NATO is a military union with no clear enemy to fight and with bills footed increasingly by a single member. As the alliance threatens North Korea and weighs a pullout of Afghanistan, some argue that it is past time for NATO to be dismantled.

The initial purpose of the trans-Atlantic defense union was to prepare for war with the communist Soviet Union, and to give its European members time to recover from the damage of World War II: “To keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down,” in the words of Lord Hastings Ismay, NATO’s first chief.

Canadian politics in the death zone

Albert Einstein famously said that insanity was "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." On that basis, Canadian politics have now entered a realm of insanity. Like a demonically possessed hamster we race furiously on a circular treadmill while staying in exactly the same political place under a delusion that this will take us to a different destination.

The stark political landscape

Despite recent Nanos polling showing the Conservative party with only 31.3 per cent of popular support -- and the combined Liberal-NDP-Green party support in Canada at 63.2 per cent, slightly more than double that of the Conservatives -- this support continues to be fragmented amongst three political parties. Although the Liberals are enjoying a bump in popularity thanks to the election of Justin Trudeau, leading with 35.4 per cent of support, with the NDP at 23.6 per cent and Greens at 4.2 per cent (the BQ is at 4.8 per cent), they have picked up this support largely at the expense of the NDP (down 3.6 per cent from February 2013) and the Green party (down 1.7 per cent). Tellingly, almost none of it came from the Conservatives (down only 0.2 per cent). As has been the case for many years, the "progressive" political parties draw support largely the expense of one other.

Obama Administration Skips Senate Drone Hearing

WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration failed to participate in the Senate's first hearing Tuesday on the use of drones for targeted killings, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said.

"I am disappointed that the administration declined to provide witnesses to testify at today’s hearings," Durbin said at the hearing, held before the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights.

Lindsey Graham: Boston Suspect's 'Ties To Radical Islamic Thought' Justifies 'Enemy Combatant' Status

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Tuesday that Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev's "ties to radical Islamic thought" and his Chechen heritage should justify holding Tsarnaev, an American citizen captured on U.S. soil, as an enemy combatant.

"Here's what we're suggesting, that the surviving suspect -- due to the ties that these two have to radical Islamic thought and the ties to Chechnya, one of most radical countries in the world -- that the president declare preliminarily that the evidence suggests that this man should be treated as an enemy combatant," Graham said on the Senate floor.

Men's Rights Activists advocate for 'human rights' with rape and death threats

The latest from A Voice For Men’s “activism” files is a smear campaign against a protester they are calling “Big Red.” “Big Red” (nothing sexist about that name) is a woman who dared to speak out (USING SWEAR WORDS, OH NO) against Men’s Rights Activists’ anti-feminist agenda.

For those who are unfamiliar with this situation, earlier in April a Men’s Rights Activist (MRA) group called the Canadian Association for Equality (CAFE) sponsored a lecture at the University of Toronto where there were talks by Janice Fiamengo about how feminism is mean. Specifically, a “mean-spirited bias against men in the humanities.”

Confronting inequality in Ontario with a public service budget

In yesterday's speech, Finance Minister Sousa pledged to keep taxes at their current levels, and hold government spending growth to 1 per cent. This was a profoundly disappointing announcement. There is no fiscal or economic reason for this policy stance, and a different approach will have both economic and social benefits.

The fiscal situation

Minister Sousa stated that Ontario is ahead on its deficit reduction plan, and the deficit will be $9.8 billion for this fiscal year, $5 billion lower than forecast in the budget. The table above shows interest payments as a share of revenues and the accumulated deficit as a share of GDP. Both of these are important measures of fiscal health of the province.

Guantanamo Hunger Strike Holds, Half Of Detainees Involved: Military

Over half of Guantanamo's 166 detainees are officially recognized as hunger strikers, a military spokesman on the remote Navy base said Tuesday.

Lt. Col. Sam House said that 84 Guantanamo detainees were on a hunger strike, the same number as were recognized on Monday. Seventeen of the detainees were being force-fed and four of that group were in the hospital. The numbers have grown since a raid on Guantanamo's Camp Six earlier this month.

The military's Muslim advisor told a small group of reporters in Guantanamo last week that more than one detainee would die before the hunger strike ended.

Original Article
Author: Ryan J. Reilly

Poverty Stalks The Suburbs

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. -- There's nothing Deidre Duffy would rather do than host a backyard barbecue for a few friends.

"I don't want anything fancy," Duffy, 53, said in an interview next to her black Weber grill. "Give me some charcoal and I'm going to shoot those flames about six feet high, and when they come down -- it's my favorite thing."
Not long ago, she imagined she'd be watching from the hammock with a belly full of grilled food as the sun set over her new back fence, and then in the darkness she'd keep warm by the fire pit with classic rock from the den wafting through the screen door.

How Obama Learned to Love the Bomb

In the winter of 2012, President Obama stood on a podium at the National Defense University to honor the 20th anniversary of a program that successfully dismantled nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union, declaring, "We simply cannot allow the 21st century to be darkened by the worst weapons of the 20th century." He reaffirmed his commitment to continue investing in nonproliferation, because "our national security depends on it." But his administration's recently released budget proposal reflects the opposite agenda: It makes big cuts to nuclear nonproliferation programs while beefing up funding for the United States' nuclear-weapons stockpile.

The Koch Brothers' Plans for Their Upcoming GOP Donor Retreat

Next week, hundreds of business executives and wealthy conservative donors will arrive in Palm Springs, California, at the behest of Charles Koch, the billionaire industrialist and older half of the Koch brothers duo. The occasion is the latest Koch donor retreat, dubbed the "billionaires caucus" by some, an exclusive, two-day confab with a speaker list that features governors, senators, and members of the House Republican leadership. It is the first Koch retreat since the 2012 elections.

Canadian House Prices 62 Per Cent Higher Than U.S. Prices: BMO

Canadians complain about the price gap between U.S. and local stores, but here’s the biggest price gap of them all: housing.

According to an analysis from BMO Capital Markets economist Doug Porter, Canadians now pay 62 per cent more for housing than Americans.

The Canada that Lester Pearson built

Lester Bowles Pearson would have been 116 years old today (April 23). Were he alive yesterday, he would have observed the 50th anniversary of his coming to power.

He was turning 66 when he and the Liberal Party took office on April 22, 1963. In a time the lifespan of an average Canadian man was just 67, Pearson was old, like so many of his foreign contemporaries: Harold Macmillan, Nikita Khrushchev, Charles de Gaulle, Konrad Adenauer.

Targets of 'anti-terrorism' Bill S-7 could include innocent bystanders

If you had to pick a day to oppose legislation that describes itself as anti-terrorist, Monday, April 22 might not have been the best one.

NDP MPs will be voting against the government's Bill S-7 not because they are utterly opposed to giving the government any enhanced powers to thwart terrorists, but because they honestly believe there are serious flaws on this proposed legislation.

That is an honourable position to take.

Via terror plot suspects deny allegations

Two men accused of trying to carry out an al-Qaeda supported plot to derail a Via passenger train made separate court appearances in different provinces today, with early indications that both will likely plead not guilty to the charges.

"He's in a state of shock and disbelief," lawyer John Norris said of his client, 35-year-old Raed Jaser, speaking to crowds of reporters outside the Toronto courthouse.