Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Thursday, May 02, 2013

Canada paying far more than going rate for shipbuilding design

A CBC News investigation has uncovered a $250-million mystery at the heart of Canada's ambitious shipbuilding program.

Public Works Minister Rona Ambrose and Defence Minister Peter MacKay announced March 7 in Halifax that Ottawa will pay Irving Shipbuilding $288 million just to design – not build – a fleet of new Arctic offshore patrol ships.

Irving will then build the ships under a separate contract.

Read the Broadcasting Act! Explaining the CBC to Stephen Harper

Are the Conservatives interfering with the CBC in a dangerous way -- or just seeing to it that salaries at crown corporations fall in line with those in the private sector?

One thing is certain: this government is definitely inserting itself into collective bargaining at the CBC, and at other crown corporations -- entities which, historically, have operated at arm's length from government.

Retired senator Bert Brown says Senate reform may need constitutional amendment: report

OTTAWA — Retired senator Bert Brown, the government’s former point man on Senate reform in the upper chamber, had argued for years that the Conservative plans for Senate reform didn’t require a constitutional amendment.

In an interview with French-language newspaper Le Devoir, Brown appears to backtrack on that position.

Trudeau Liberals Lead Conservatives By 7 Points: Poll

OTTAWA - A new poll suggests two weeks of Conservative attack ads have done little to dim Justin Trudeau's honeymoon with Canadians.

The Canadian Press Harris-Decima survey indicates the Liberal party has jumped to a seven-point lead over the Tories since Trudeau's landslide leadership victory last month.

Stephen Poloz Appointed Bank Of Canada Governor

Stephen Poloz, the head of Export Development Canada, has been named the new governor of the Bank of Canada.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made the announcement in Ottawa Thursday afternoon, surprising many observers by passing over the odds-on favourite for the job, BoC Deputy Governor Tiff Macklem.

An Angry Obama. Finally

During the chaotic week of the Boston bomb attacks, Barack Obama finally did something a lot of people had been waiting for: He got angry. In public. In the Rose Garden. It happened after the Senate had shamefully failed to pass a bill, favored by the overwhelming majority of Americans, requiring background checks for gun purchasers. "The gun lobby and its allies willfully lied about the bill," he said. "They claimed that it would create some sort of Big Brother gun registry even though the bill did the opposite ... Those lies upset an intense minority of gun owners, and that in turn intimidated a lot of Senators."

Rehtaeh Parsons was a victim of misogyny, not 'bullying'

Recently, a girl named Rehtaeh Parsons committed suicide. After having been allegedly gang-raped by four boys, a picture of the incident was passed around to her classmates, who then went on to humiliate and harass her.

 Local police callously ignored the rape allegation when it was reported to them. After attempting suicide on April 4, Rehtaeh passed away several days later in a hospital.

Rehtaeh Parsons was a victim of misogyny, not 'bullying'

Recently, a girl named Rehtaeh Parsons committed suicide. After having been allegedly gang-raped by four boys, a picture of the incident was passed around to her classmates, who then went on to humiliate and harass her.

 Local police callously ignored the rape allegation when it was reported to them. After attempting suicide on April 4, Rehtaeh passed away several days later in a hospital.

Conservatives’ move to control negotiations at Crown corporations part of broader agenda for public service contracts

The Conservative government’s move to control the mandate of contract negotiations between Crown corporations and its employees is part of its sweeping plan to make the pay and benefits of all federal workers more affordable and in line with the private sector.

In the last budget the government signalled a overhaul in way it manages its $43 billion a year payroll, and this week unveiled legislation that would give it some of the tools to help it get there. Its plans includes giving cabinet the power to oversee collective bargaining and the right to appoint a Treasury Board representative at all rounds of negotiations.

Baird fighting 'tooth and nail' to keep UN aviation office in Montreal

Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's office says the Harper government is working hard to keep the headquarters for the organization that regulates international air transportation in Montreal, its "natural home."

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), an agency of the United Nations, has been based in Montreal since its establishment in 1947.

Free-speech report takes aim at Harper government's 'culture of secrecy'

TORONTO - A test project that allows requests for information to be made online is among a few positive developments that have lifted the federal government's overall transparency performance to a barely passing grade, according to a new report by a free-speech advocacy group.

At the same time, the report by Canadian Journalists for Free Expression takes aim at the Conservative government for its "culture of secrecy" as epitomized by the muzzling of federal scientists.

Search And Rescue Canada: Peter MacKay Announces Changes After Auditor Complaints

OTTAWA - Just days after the auditor general's sharp warning about Canada's search-and-rescue capability, the Harper government unveiled Thursday a series of largely symbolic changes, but promised more substantive reform down the road.

Commanders at rescue bases will be given more flexibility to adjust their hours of operation to better match with incident times, and the government will spend up to $16.2 million in improvements to the country's satellite search systems, said Defence Minister Peter MacKay.

Tax chief waived £20m owed by bank 'for fear of embarrassing chancellor'

A controversial "sweetheart" tax deal between HM Revenue & Customs and Goldman Sachs, worth up to £20m, was agreed in part to avoid embarrassment to George Osborne, according to the government's former head of tax.

Dave Hartnett wrote that he decided to settle the long-running dispute after Goldman Sachs threatened to pull out of a prized new tax framework a week after the chancellor had announced that the bank had signed up to it.

Syria chemical weapons evidence 'too degraded' for proof

Western intelligence agencies fear they can no longer prove for certain whether the Syrian government was responsible for alleged chemical weapon attacks, because initial samples and evidence trails have degraded over time.

Instead, Britain and the US are likely to have to wait for fresh evidence from further attacks before deciding whether to take a military response against the Assad government.

US drone strikes being used as alternative to Guantánamo, lawyer says

The lawyer who first drew up White House policy on lethal drone strikes has accused the Obama administration of overusing them because of its reluctance to capture prisoners that would otherwise have to be sent to Guantánamo Bay.

John Bellinger, who was responsible for drafting the legal framework for targeted drone killings while working for George W Bush after 9/11, said he believed their use had increased since because President Obama was unwilling to deal with the consequences of jailing suspected al-Qaida members.

Somalia Famine Killed 133,000 Children Under The Age Of 5

NAIROBI, Kenya — A decision by extremist Islamic militants to ban delivery of food aid and a "normalization of crisis" that numbed international donors to unfolding disaster made south-central Somalia the most dangerous place in the world to be a child in 2011.

The first in-depth study of famine deaths in Somalia in 2011 was released Thursday, and it estimates that 133,000 children under age 5 died, with child death rates approaching 20 percent in some communities.

Frontier Carry-On Fee: Airline Plans To Charge Up To $100 For Luggage In Overhead Bin

Frontier Airlines plans to start charging up to $100 for a carry-on bag and $2 for coffee or soda, although its announcement on Wednesday did say that passengers will get to keep the whole can.

The new carry-on fee is for bags in the overhead bin, so small bags under the seat will still be free. Frontier said it will charge $25 if the fee is paid in advance, $100 if travelers wait to pay until they're at the gate.

Jeffrey Sachs: Wall Street Case Shows 'Pathological System, Out Of Control'

Just days after saying Wall Street is full of "crooks," top economist Jeffrey Sachs continues to bring the hammer down on financial institutions.

Dr. Sachs, special adviser to the UN secretary general and the director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said in an interview on HuffPostLive that the country's financial system is not only mismanaged, but also wrought with criminal activity. Sachs used Steven A. Cohen and SAC Capital Advisors' recent settlement with the Securities and Exchange Commission for more than $600 million to illustrate what he perceives to be a "pathological," "out of control" system regulating U.S. financial institutions.

Watch the full video above, or check out the full interview here.

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post

Reinhart, Rogoff Backing Furiously Away From Austerity Movement

Under steady attack after their seminal research was found to be riddled with errors, Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff are making a show of backing away from the austerity that their research encouraged.

They claim that their views on austerity have never changed, but the record tells a different story. They're still trying to have it both ways -- advocating for government belt-tightening while trying to avoid being seen as political.

Wisconsin: Walker's job-creation agency criticized in blistering audit

A blistering audit released Wednesday, May 1, said Gov. Scott Walker's premiere job creation agency repeatedly broke state law in its first year of operation, failed to adequately track money it awarded for economic development projects and sometimes gave money to ineligible recipients.

RNC Ad Touts Failure Of Popular Background Checks Measure

The Republican National Committee touted the failure of a bipartisan background check amendment in a web ad released Wednesday, despite the fact that the measure is broadly supported by the public and senators who voted against it have seen their popularity drop.

The one-minute video uses a compilation of news footage, with one reporter saying that President Barack Obama has faced a "string of defeats in Congress," and another pointing out that "the gun bill failed."

Guantanamo Hunger Strike Lays Bare Detainees' Growing Desperation

GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba -- For weeks, said Army Col. John V. Bogdan, the man in charge of Guantanamo’s detention facilities, he had tried to bring the crisis to a peaceful resolution. Since early February, a little more than six months after he took over command here, detainees had been protesting their treatment. Those in the communal Camp Six had covered video cameras with empty cereal boxes and other items, preventing U.S. officials from monitoring their movements.

With Friends Like These: On Pakistan

It’s best not to dwell too much on Pakistan, or at least Ahmed Rashid’s description of it in Pakistan on the Brink, because the conclusions are so grim. Consider the variables: there are at least three civil wars being fought in the country, which has an arsenal of around 100 atomic weapons and is manufacturing more. Its military and intelligence services have cultivated religious extremists and terrorists as policy proxies for nearly sixty years, and have now lost control of some of them. The social capacities of the government’s civilian branches are minimal; its bureaucracies are largely unable or unwilling to do the economic planning and development necessary to meet the basic needs of the world’s sixth-most-populous nation. Its economic growth is only about half that of Bangladesh or Sri Lanka, and is generally well below half of the typical growth rates in India; consequently, its economy can’t create enough work for its “youth bulge” (35 percent of Pakistanis are below the age of 15). The country’s political class is composed mostly of reactionary landlords who steal from the public coffers and oppose meaningful social reform. In 2011, more than two-thirds of Pakistani lawmakers—rich men, mostly—did not even bother with the pretense of filing income taxes. The president, Asif Ali Zardari, was among them.

Time for Big Green to Go Fossil Free

The movement demanding that public interest institutions divest their holdings from fossil fuels is on a serious roll. At last count, there were active divestment campaigns on 305 campuses and in more than 100 US cities and states. The demand has spread to Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and Britain. And though officially launched just six months ago, the movement can already claim some provisional victories: four US colleges have announced their intention to divest their endowments from fossil fuel stocks and bonds, and in late April ten US cities made similar commitments, including San Francisco (Seattle came on board months ago).

Sun News to CRTC: No guaranteed spot on the dial, no more network

OTTAWA - Sun News Network made its final pitch to the federal telecommunications regulator on Thursday, saying anything short of a guaranteed spot on the dial would spell the end of the channel.

The Quebecor-owned network is seeking what is known as mandatory carriage from the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission.

Arguing for Our Lives: A User's Guide to Constructive Dialogue

Arguing for Our Lives: A User's Guide to Constructive Dialog
by Robert Jensen (City Lights Publishers, 2013; $13.95)

The following is an adapted excerpt from the new book Arguing for Our Lives: A User's Guide to Constructive Dialogue, published by City Lights Books.

"The universe is an undifferentiated whole. About that we can say nothing more."

This catchy aphorism from political philosopher Bruce Wright may seem nonsensical at first glance, but is worth exploring in the service of deepening our intellectual humility. Facing multiple, cascading ecological crises, we humans need science more than ever and more than ever we need to understand the limits of science.

CBC wants meeting with feds on Harper Cabinet's new powers over CBC's collective bargaining

PARLIAMENT HILL—A Hill Times review of annual reports from nearly one-third of Canada’s federal Crown corporations and union contract terms for three of the biggest—the CBC, Canada Post and Via Rail—raises questions about the timing and intent of legislation that will give Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Cabinet unprecedented control over Crown corporation collective bargaining.

The CBC, which is fighting back against the measures, released a statement Wednesday night warning of possible “unintended consequences” and said it is requesting a meeting with the federal government to ensure Cabinet ministers have “accurate information” about its record on restraint, employee salary increases over the past several years, and its mandate under the Broadcasting Act.

Temporary foreign worker flood to continue

Governments rarely acknowledge mistakes. Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has managed, with the help of a dictation-taking media, to shift blame for the mess in the temporary foreign worker program onto employers. But they did only what they were allowed to do — hire guest workers from abroad, in droves, even as the economy was going down after 2008.

The government is responsible for this boondoggle.

Pressure builds for action on income polarization

The story of poverty is harder to tell than it was a decade ago.

On average, low-income Canadians are doing better than they did in the 1990s. The plight of single-parent families has improved. In some parts of the country — Newfoundland, P.E.I. and Saskatchewan — significant progress has been made in reducing both the rate and depth of poverty.

But averages mask worrisome trends . Some groups are falling behind faster, facing bigger obstacles. The largest is unattached adults between the ages of 18 and 65. Caught in a low-wage labour market or unable to find work, their standard of living has fallen markedly. So have those of new immigrants and visible minorities.

National security a mess

Canadian governments have a long history of abusing, or strangely using, public funds for security purposes, dating right back to John A. Macdonald’s post-Confederation pillaging of his “secret service” funds for political patronage.

Efforts at financial accountability for the secret world are of much more recent vintage. The very first time the auditor general stuck his forensic nose into the activities of the Canadian security and intelligence community was in 1996. This pioneering study has since been followed up with increasing vigour, especially in the post 9/11 years as the significance of security work increased exponentially and as the funding taps opened wide. The auditor general has come to play an important accountability role, with spending audits that are, as their title suggests, something more — “performance audits.” These are not just worthy bean-counting exercises, they are studies of how well the government manages the public purse and uses taxpayers’ money.

You can mislay $3.1 billion — you can’t shrug it off

The item in the auditor general’s spring report which captured media and public attention this year was, of course, the revelation that only $9.8 billion of the $12.9 billion earmarked for the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative (PSAT) could be accounted for — leaving an unexplained shortfall of $3.1 billion.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement, along with a number of his colleagues, attempted to explain this difference but their explanations were far from convincing. Their handling of the issue, in fact, came straight out of the Keystone Cops.

Harper’s overhaul means getting back in control of the agenda

This government needs to recover its sense of purpose. The odds are it will. But in politics, the odds can quickly change.

Stephen Harper has little to show for the past six months. While the last half of 2012 was dedicated to pushing the tough measures of last year’s budget through Parliament, the winter and (endlessly delayed) spring of 2013 have been a policy vacuum, with a stay-the-course budget, a trade deal with Europe gone missing, and a slender legislative agenda.

Ottawa’s new public service plans include turfing poor performers

Conservative plans for public service reform include a focus on turfing poor performers as the government girds for a fight with “union bosses” and defends proposed new powers over independent Crown corporations.

Treasury Board President Tony Clement triggered strong reaction this week after telling The Globe and Mail that new cabinet powers over Crown corporations will be used to “key in on” spending at Canada Post, the CBC and Via Rail. But the minister also outlined plans for changes within traditional government departments that he said can be implemented outside of the collective bargaining process.

Grim report warns Canada vulnerable to an aboriginal insurrection

Mankind is at a crossroads, Woody Allen once quipped: “One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”

Canada’s relations with its aboriginal people are also at a crossroads but, fortunately, one of the potential paths forward promises a more auspicious outcome than Mr. Allen’s doomsday scenario.

The Macdonald-Laurier Institute think-tank laid out the options in two important essays released Wednesday. One paper, by Ken Coates and Brian Lee Crowley, outlines an optimistic vision where aboriginal and non-aboriginal Canadians find ways to collaborate on natural resource development, to the benefit of all.

Iraq War resister Kim Rivera sent to prison this week for desertion

"Ultimately, the success of the nation depends on the character of its citizens." So said George W. Bush in his speech at the dedication of his presidential library in Texas last week. The library officially opened to the public May 1, the 10th anniversary of his famous "Mission Accomplished" speech aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, anchored just off the coast of San Diego. Bush, in his remarks at the library, along with President Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others all failed to mention the word "Iraq."

All lawbreakers will be punished … unless they happen to be Alberta Conservatives

In Alberta, lawbreakers must be punished, and they will be punished -- unless, of course, they happen to be supporters of the ruling Progressive Conservative Party.

So, the government announced yesterday, it will be going after the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees for the full cost of the wildcat strike by 2,500 jail guards -- a figure the government ministers were somewhat fancifully suggesting yesterday will be about $6 million.

In addition, on top of the $350,000 in fines AUPE has already paid, Justice Minister Jonathan Denis was promising to use Alberta's primitive labour laws to refuse to collect union dues from thousands of AUPE members who had nothing whatsoever to do with the strike for six months. That could cost AUPE another $8 million or so.

Ontario budget will see more hospital downsizing and community upsizing, health minister says

Ontario hospitals are shrinking at a rapid rate and while some say cuts to beds, staff and services are hurting patients, the province’s health minister argues they are “deliberate” and necessary.

Health Minister Deb Matthews said Thursday’s budget will see the province stay the course on downsizing hospitals, but at the same time funding for home and community health services will increase to pick up the slack.

NIMBYism at heart of Ontario’s gas plant scandal

Not even the government’s best spin can keep costs from spiralling out of control in the great GTA gas plant debacle.

Instead of a promised $40 million bill to cancel the Oakville generating site, we’re now told the true cost exceeds $310 million. In place of a projected $180 million to relocate a Mississauga gas-fired plant, it could cost us $275 million.

Private sector solutions for Ontario’s public sector problems

Budget season is a reminder that Ontarians face stark choices. While the province may not be in the same boat as Greece, Ontario’s fiscal challenges are daunting.

Ontarians need to re-evaluate the fundamental role of government in the provision of some public services. We need to harness private sector investment and innovation in ways that protect the public interest. Alternative service delivery (ASD) could hit the sweet spot in many, many areas.

Waterfront Toronto pumps billions into economy and now needs power to raise revenue

As investments go, Toronto’s waterfront has turned out to be one of the best. Starting in 2001 with $1.5 billion of public finding and 810 hectares of prime lakeside real estate, Waterfront Toronto has since signed private-sector deals worth $2.6 billion and created 16,000 full-time years of employment.

In addition to that is the $9.6 billion generated by the “catalytic effects” of waterfront revitalization.

“We have more than doubled the original investment,” Waterfront Toronto’s CEO John Campbell told a news conference Wednesday. “The public/private approach is working.”

Alabama Senate Passes Bill To Nullify Gun Laws

The Alabama state Senate passed legislation Tuesday that would nullify all federal gun laws in the state, joining a growing list of state legislatures looking to ban gun legislation from the books.

The Alabama bill says that any federal law that is contrary to the Second Amendment would be declared "null and void" in the state. But unlike a similar bill recently passed in Missouri, the Alabama measure does not specify what the consequences would be for federal law enforcement who seek to enforce federal gun laws in the state.

Ted Cruz will never be president

During the 2012 election cycle I occasionally ran stories declaring that various Republicans being touted as White House material “will never be president.” Sarah Palin after her narcissistic Gabby Giffords meltdown; Newt Gingrich early in his race-baiting campaign; Mitt Romney after his British Olympics screw-up.

I batted 1.000 for that cycle, but it was easy. In 2016, Republicans won’t be facing a Democratic incumbent, so somebody has a shot. I recently wrote that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will never be president, due to his out-of-control anger issues, but candidly, I think that’s my riskiest one yet.

Stella Tremblay, New Hampshire Legislator, Says Jeff Bauman 'Was Not In Pain' After Bombing

The New Hampshire state legislator who has said the federal government caused the Boston Marathon bombing claimed proof in a victim who lost both legs and "was not in pain."

State Rep. Stella Tremblay (R-Auburn) told a conservative talk show host Tuesday that she knows the federal government was behind the attacks because Jeff Bauman, a bombing victim who helped identify the suspects, was not "screaming in agony" after both his legs were blown off. Tremblay made the comments on The Pete Santilli Show, first reported by, a liberal-leaning website, on Wednesday.

Risky Business: On Risk and Individualism

In 2010, Goldman Sachs chief executive Lloyd Blankfein was summoned to testify before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was charged with investigating the role of derivatives and other arcane investments in the 2008 economic meltdown. Still smarting from the flogging he was given by the press the previous year for boasting that the financial sector was doing “God’s work,” Blankfein adopted a more pragmatic approach in heading off calls for increased regulation and oversight. “Taking risk completely out of the system,” he warned, “will be at the cost of economic growth. We know from economic history that innovation—and the new industries and new jobs that result from it—require risk taking.”

Mitt Romney's Advice to College Grads: Start Having Babies as Soon as Possible

"Get married, have a quiver full of kids if you can." That's the commencement advice Mitt Romney delivered this past weekend to 110 new graduates of Southern Virginia University, a largely Mormon school near Lynchburg, Virginia, where many students volunteered with Romney's failed presidential campaign.

Family-values talk at a Latter Day Saints school is hardly surprising, but perhaps some of Romney's scriptural citations were. In a speech peppered with admonitions that graduates should marry and start families young, he dropped in a Biblical reference, Psalm 127, more often associated with another religious tradition: the Quiverfull movement.

America's Fertilizer Keeps Blowing Up. It Doesn't Have To

It didn't take long in the aftermath of April's explosion in West, Texas, for the problems with the fertilizer industry to come into focus. Inspections are virtually non-existent; regulatory agencies don't talk to each other; and there's no such thing as a buffer zone when it comes to constructing plants and storage facilities in populated areas.

Lost in the fallout, though, is a damning fact: fertilizer doesn't have to be explosive. Pure ammonium nitrate like the kind that caused the West disaster is already banned in the United Kingdom, Germany, Colombia, the Philippines, and China, due to its explosive risk; Australia's largest fertilizer manufacturer discontinued the use of the compound after it was used in the 2002 Bali hotel bombing. And the Department of Defense has pressured fertilizer manufacturers overseas to neutralize their own products, warning that anything less constitutes a threat to American personnel. But in the United States, with the backing of the chemical industry, explosive ammonium nitrate has held onto a small but powerful share of the market as the fertilizer-of-choice for citrus growers.

Muzzling Science: How Tories Control The Message

The Harper government’s iron grip on communications has been acutely felt in federal agencies and departments that engage in scientific research, resulting in a dramatic drop in press releases, the muzzling of scientists, and, in one department at least, a process that flags “negative” interview requests from news media, often leaving them unanswered or denied, internal documents show.

Since the Tories formed government in 2006, the clampdown and centralization of communications by the Privy Council Office (PCO) – the bureaucratic arm that serves the Prime Minister’s Office – has been well documented, from directives to use the term “Harper Government” on official Government of Canada communications to tightly stage-managed press conferences.

Opposition hammers government over unaccounted-for spending

The NDP is calling for an inquiry into $3.1 billion in unaccounted-for spending highlighted in the auditor general’s latest report.

In a report released Tuesday, Auditor General Michael Ferguson said the funds were earmarked for public security and anti-terrorism measures between 2001 and 2009. But when Ferguson and his team went through the Treasury Board's books, they were unable to identify where the $3.1 billion had been spent.

Ohio Measure Punishes Public Colleges For Helping Out-Of-State Students Vote

A new effort from Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives would financially punish state universities for helping out-of-state students vote in Ohio during their college years.

Under the proposal, if a state university provided an out-of-state student with a letter or utility bill to prove Ohio residency and thereby allow the student to vote locally, the Columbus Dispatch reports, the school would then be forced to charge the lower in-state tuition rate to that student.

Seattle May Day Rally Turns Violent

SEATTLE — Police used "flash bangs" and pepper spray against some protesters who pelted them with rocks and bottles late Wednesday, as violence erupted during May Day in Seattle.

Several dozen protesters, many using bandanas to cover their faces, began clashing with police in downtown Seattle hours after a peaceful immigrant-rights march ended.

Protesters threw rocks and bottles at police officers and news crews. As they moved through downtown Seattle to another nearby neighborhood, they flung construction street barriers, trash cans and newspaper bins on the streets in an attempt to block advancing police officers. Windows of local businesses were broken and vehicles with people in them were banged around.

Executive Pay Of Austerity Advocates Saves Companies More Than $1 Billion Via Tax Loophole

WASHINGTON -- Companies in the Fix the Debt coalition, which advocates for federal austerity policies, qualified for $1 billion or more in tax breaks tied to executive pay packages from 2009 to 2011, according to a new report by the liberal think tanks Institute for Policy Studies and Campaign for America's Future.

Pat Toomey: Background Checks Died Because GOP Didn't Want To Help Obama

Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) revealed that some members of his party opposed expanding background checks for gun sales recently because they didn't want to "be seen helping the president."

Two weeks ago, only three Republican senators voted for the bipartisan background checks amendment sponsored by Toomey and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), despite overwhelming popular support for such a measure.

Mike Rogers Confronted Over Sequestration Concerns At Town Hall

WASHINGTON -- As the ripples of sequestration begin to spread across the country, members of Congress are in their home districts for recess this week, meeting with their constituents and hearing their concerns. On Tuesday, dissatisfaction with the budget cuts spilled over into Rep. Mike Rogers' (R-Ala.) town hall meeting, when a local businessman stood up and said he worried that sequestration was going to destroy his business.

John Mullins, 57, is a lifelong resident of Auburn, Ala., where Rogers held his Tuesday meeting with constituents. For the past 15 years, he's owned Collector's Corner, which sells comic books and other paraphernalia.

Tories Take Greater Control Of CBC, Canada Post, Via Rail, As Critics Voice Outrage

Opposition and labour leaders are in an uproar after it was revealed the Harper government plans to take more direct control of Canada’s Crown corporations, in particular the CBC, Canada Post and Via Rail.

Following news on Tuesday that the Tories are planning to inject themselves directly into wage negotiations between the CBC and its employees, the Globe and Mail revealed Wednesday that the government has similar plans to control expenditures at all other Crown corporations, but plans to focus mostly on Canada’s national broadcaster, railway company and postal service.