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.]

Friday, February 28, 2014

Does Harper tip well, at least?

Let me be clear from the beginning: There is no evidence that the prime minister knew about those free lunches in his office that cost the taxpayers $67,000.

One person and one person alone bears responsibility: Nigel Wright, a good man gone horribly wrong. Apparently, the PM’s former chief of staff (or should that be chef-of-staff?) did not merely keep his backroom deals with Senator Mike Duffy from Steve. Nigel also deceived him about the chicken and mushroom fettucine, the pizza and — I might as well say it — the garlic bread and Caesar salad too.

Verizon CEO Wants To Charge You More If You Use Too Much Internet

Netflix streamer? File sharer? If Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam gets his way, you may soon start paying more for broadband.

At an investor's meeting on Monday, McAdam used his closing comments to clarify Verizon's position on net neutrality, or the rule that internet service providers (ISPs) should treat all types of web traffic equally.

"I think it is only natural that the heavy users help contribute to the investment to keep the web healthy," McAdam said. Those "users" could be companies that use a lot of bandwidth -- like Netflix -- or even individual consumers -- like people who stream a lot of Netflix. Essentially, McAdam's saying that if you're using too much Internet, you should pay up.

Putin Foe Alexei Navalny Under House Arrest

MOSCOW, Feb 28 (Reuters) - A Russian court placed opposition leader Alexei Navalny under house arrest for at least two months on Friday and barred him from using the Internet or speaking to the media.

The court said Navalny, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin and a leader of anti-Kremlin protests in 2011 and 2012, had violated rules barring him from leaving Moscow.

Navalny denounced the ruling as baseless and said it was meant to silence him. Supporters, including members of protest band Pussy Riot, shouted "Freedom!" as he left the courtroom.

Senators to investigate NSA role in GCHQ 'Optic Nerve' webcam spying

Three US senators are planning to investigate any role the National Security Agency played in its British partner’s mass collection of Yahoo webcam images.

Reacting to the Guardian’s revelation on Thursday that UK surveillance agency GCHQ swept up millions of Yahoo users’ webcam chats, senators Ron Wyden, Mark Udall and Martin Heinrich said in a joint statement that “any involvement of US agencies in the alleged activities reported today will need to be closely scrutinized”.

Russian armoured vehicles on the move in Crimea

With Russian armoured personnel carriers on the move in the Crimean peninsula, world leaders have sought assurances from the Kremlin that Moscow is not acting to escalate the violence in Ukraine.

A convoy of nine APCs painted with the Russian flag were seen on the road between the port city of Sevastopol and the regional capital of Sinferopol. Reporters spotted them parked on the side of a road near the town of Bakhchisarai, apparently stalled after one vehicle developed a mechanical fault.

The Russian foreign ministry said movements of vehicles belonging to the Russian Black Sea Fleet were prompted by the need to ensure the security of its base in Sevastopol. Russia is supposed to notify Ukraine of any troop movements outside the naval base. The Ukrainian defence ministry said it had no information about the vehicles' movements.

Alberta doctor tells U.S.: Canada is ‘lying’ about tar sands’ health effects

A northern Alberta doctor warned U.S. Senators on what he says have been the devastating health impacts of the tar sands on families – effects, he says, that have been willfully “ignored” by the Canadian and Alberta governments.
“I appeal to you to keep up the pressure – this is an ongoing tragedy.  A total disgrace,” said Dr. John O’Connor, Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

Grand Chief predicts repeat of Oka crisis if feds fail to consult First Nations before Enbridge Northern Gateway decision

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver announced yesterday that the federal government's decision to the deeply controversial Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline is expected some time in mid-June. For it to be approved, however, the federal government is constitutionally required to meaningfully consult First Nations along the pipeline route. 

North Korea Fired 4 Suspected Missiles Into Eastern Waters, Seoul Says

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired four suspected short-range missiles into its eastern waters Thursday, South Korean defense officials said, in an apparent effort to protest ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises that Pyongyang calls a rehearsal for invasion.

The launches, however, weren't expected to raise tension as North Korean routinely tests short-range missiles and it has recently sought better ties with South Korea in what outside analysts say is an attempt to win badly-needed foreign investment and aid. The rival Koreas this month held their first reunions of Korean War-divided families in more than three years.

Ukraine: Armed Men In Russian Uniforms Reportedly Occupy Crimea Airport

IMFEROPOL, Ukraine (AP) — A protest leader expected to become Ukraine's next prime minister says the country's future lies in the European Union but with friendly relations with Russia.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk said Ukraine doesn't want a fight with Russia, but insisted the country wouldn't accept the secession of the southern Crimea region, where unknown gunmen on Thursday occupied local government buildings and raised the Russian flag.

He said Crimea "has been and will be a part of Ukraine."

The 39-year-old Yatsenyuk has been nominated by Ukraine's interim leaders to become prime minister. A vote was expected in Parliament later Thursday.

Yatsenyuk said tough reforms are needed to prevent Ukraine, divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, from collapsing economically and politically.

Original Article
Author:  AP  | by  DALTON BENNETT


In the ongoing debate about rising income inequality, two questions are often raised: one from the left—Is rising inequality impeding economic growth? And the other from the right: Does tackling inequality, which usually involves some form of redistribution, reduce growth?
The questions reflect differing concerns and differing world views. In his 2012 book, “The Price of Inequality,” Joseph Stiglitz, the liberal Columbia economist, argued that recent trends in income distribution threatened not just economic growth but the very fabric of democracy. On the other side of the ideological divide, conservative economists claim that tackling inequality—by, for instance, raising taxes on the rich and using it to finance government programs for the poor—has adverse effects on incentives and restricts growth, which is counterproductive for everybody.

China Proposes Controversial New Holidays Amid Growing Tensions With Japan

A new plan proposed in China's parliament would establish two new national holidays in remembrance of conflicts with Japan in the 1930s and 1940s, China’s Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.

Many perceive Beijing's push for the new holidays, which comes amid growing political and economic tensions between China and Japan, as an antagonistic move against the Japanese.

Libertarians Plan to Sit Out the Coming Collapse of America…in Chile

Ken Johnson's Jeep crests a ridgetop on a dusty track a few miles off the private tollway that connects Santiago and Valparaíso, Chile. He gets out, takes a swig of beer, and gestures at the hardwood forests rising up to the craggy mountaintops. Below, Pacific coastal scrub stretches toward the lemon groves where cooks are roasting three lambs on an open fire. "Look at that, look at how majestic that is," Johnson says. "That is awesome."

Welcome to Galt's Gulch Chile, a libertarian refuge from the coming economic, social, and political collapse of the United States. The would-be free-market utopia, named after the mountain redoubt of the protagonist of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, is taking advance payments (Bitcoins gladly accepted) for parcels on its 11,000 acres.

Shocker: Canadian Taxpayers Federation suffers 17% membership slump!

In a stunning development, membership in the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has slumped close to 17 percent -- from six members, to five!
Alert readers will recall Alberta Diary's revelation in March 2013 that the much-quoted organization, which is as pure an example of political AstroTurfing as can be found in Canada, in reality has only five members.
The self-described "citizen advocacy" group had been allowing itself to be portrayed by its many friends in media as an organization of 70,000 Canadians -- including, as it happened, your blogger's dog Riley, who, aside from his rather basic understanding of economics, is as friendly and loyal a fellow as you could wish to meet.

TransCanada Whistleblower's Safety Complaints Validated by Regulator

You can't say that pipeline whistleblower Evan Vokes didn't warn North Americans that something was wrong with TransCanada's pipeline safety system.

Almost two years ago, the former TransCanada employee filed a lengthy complaint against the proponent of the Keystone XL line with the National Energy Board (NEB).

It claimed the Calgary-based company routinely cut corners, let business decisions undermine engineering practices, and did not uphold the law governing pipeline safety, such as Onshore Pipeline Regulations-99 (OPR-99).

Taxing The Rich Not A Drag On Economic Growth: IMF Paper

OTTAWA - A new paper by researchers at the International Monetary Fund appears to debunk a tenet of conservative economic ideology — that taxing the rich to give to the poor is bad for the economy.

The paper by IMF researchers Jonathan Ostry, Andrew Berg and Charalambos Tsangarides will be applauded by politicians and economists who regard high levels of income inequality as not only a moral stain on society but also economically unsound.

Labelled as the first study to incorporate recently compiled figures comparing pre- and post-tax data from a large number of countries, the authors say there is convincing evidence that lower net inequality is good economics, boosting growth and leading to longer-lasting periods of expansion.

Ohio Early Voting Will No Longer Take Place On Sundays, Weekday Evenings

Ohio voters will no longer be able to take part in early voting on Sundays or weekday nights, according to hours set by Secretary of State Jon Husted.

The AP reports voters will only get two Saturdays to cast early, in-person ballots during the statewide election this fall.

In a release on the "fair and uniform voting hours," Husted explained the goal of cutting back on opportunities for early voting.

Scared by a Downloading Lawsuit? It Might Be a Troll

The outbreak of copyright trolling cases in the United States and Britain in recent years has sparked considerable anger from courts, Internet providers and subscribers. These cases, which typically involve sending thousands of legal letters alleging copyright infringement and demanding thousands of dollars to settle, rely on ill-informed and frightened subscribers, who would rather pay the settlement than fight in court.

Canada was largely spared these cases until 2012, when Voltage Pictures, a United States film company, filed a lawsuit demanding that TekSavvy, a leading independent Internet provider, disclose the names and addresses of thousands of subscribers who it claimed infringed its copyright. TekSavvy did not formally oppose the request, but it did ensure that its subscribers were informed about the lawsuit and it supported an intervention from the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, a technology law clinic, that brought the privacy and copyright trolling concerns to the court's attention (I sit on the CIPPIC advisory board).

Disabled could lose job aid in funding spat with Ottawa

Job coaches are starting to get pink slips as Ottawa and the provinces continue their standoff over employment funding.

The Nova Scotia government has warned employment groups it cannot guarantee their funding after March 31, when its contract with Ottawa, known as a labour market agreement, expires.

One group, the Collaborative Partnership Network, is holding an event today at the legislature to warn that 200 disabled Nova Scotians will lose their support programs and possibly their jobs if a new agreement is not reached in time.

Harper Says Income Splitting 'Good Policy' Despite Flaherty's Misgivings

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is hinting that the key Conservative campaign plank from the 2011 federal election that earned him a majority may not be pitched overboard after all.

Income-splitting for couples with children under 18 was a multibillion-dollar pledge during the last election — a Conservative promise that would kick in as soon as the government balanced the federal budget.

Ukraine's President Yanukovych Planned Crackdown As He Fled, Documents Show

Ukrainian leader Viktor Yanukovych was planning a massive crackdown involving thousands of army troops, according to documents leaked to the Financial Times.

The papers, which the Financial Times said were verified by senior Ukrainian officials, refer to plans to move security forces from the southern regions of Ukraine into the capital, Kiev, for an "antiterrorist" operation that involved warrantless searches and authorized the use of weapons on protesters. The newspaper adds that another document, posted to Facebook by a former interior minister who claimed to have received it from "patriotic law enforcement officials," details plans for an operation aimed at regaining control of Kiev's city center.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

TransCanada Pipeline Safety Audit Underscores Concerns: Council Of Canadians

CALGARY - Problems flagged in the National Energy Board's audit of TransCanada Corp.'s pipeline safety practices should have Canadians worried, a group fighting that company's proposed Energy East pipeline said Tuesday.

The audit report, released Monday, found TransCanada (TSX:TRP) to be non-compliant in four of nine areas it examined: hazard identification, risk assessment and control; operational control in upset or abnormal operating condition; inspection, measurement and monitoring, and management review.

Canada's Richest Have Gotten Richer. The Poorest? Well...

A new report on Canadian finances shows the rich have nearly doubled their net wealth over the span of 13 years while the poor have -- you guessed it -- gotten poorer.

Statistics Canada’s survey of financial security, conducted between September and November 2012, revealed the poorest 20 per cent of Canadians have seen their median net worth remain unchanged since 2005, and decline since 1999.

Three apartheid policies enforced by Israel today

As previously discussed, apartheid refers to a system of discriminatory polices which divide a population along racial lines and give superior treatment to one race over another. The objective of these inhumane laws is to maintain the domination of one race. The system of apartheid implemented by Israel in the Palestinian territories is designed to oppress Palestinian Arabs and give preferential treatment to Israeli Jews. We will now explore the different apartheid policies enforced by Israel (Note: Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) refers to East Jerusalem, West Bank and the Gaza Strip which have been under Israeli occupation since 1967)

Supreme Court Makes Big Decision On When Cops Can Enter Your Home

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police may search a home without a warrant when two occupants disagree about allowing officers to enter, and the resident who refuses access is then arrested.

The justices declined to extend an earlier ruling denying entry to police when the occupants disagree and both are present.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court's 6-3 decision holding that an occupant may not object to a search when he is not at home.

Toward a nuanced, feminist discussion on Venezuela

If you’re paying attention to international news, you may have noticed that there’s something happening in Venezuela. And depending on what news sources you’re reading, you might be hearing extremely different things. What you’ll have trouble hearing, though, is a nuanced perspective that doesn’t either dismiss or glorify my homeland’s socialist government. So I guess I’m gonna try to write it.

To be honest, I’m quite hesitant to talk Venezuelan politics publicly. I’ve found people’s reactions to be extremely polarized, and the subject matter too deeply personal for me to easily brush off. But the last week has been so brutal, and the coverage so extremely lacking, that it feels imperative to put fear aside and share the little piece I have to contribute. I’m particularly interested in leftist movements’ ability to hold leftist governments accountable when their actions are oppressive, in our ability to have a nuanced conversation about the ways the folks we prop up as heroes fail us. And I’m interested in talking about how, even in the face of complete failure on major issues of gender equity and justice, leftist projects can remain darlings in the eyes of our social movements.

Stephen Harper's Income Splitting Tune Shifts Again

OTTAWA - The Conservative caucus appears to have put some woolly socks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cold feet on income splitting, convincing him to stick with a key campaign promise despite his finance minister's public reservations.

After Harper suggested earlier this month that he might be having second thoughts, the message from the prime minister changed this week to one of again embracing the concept.

Who Are We to Define Democracy for the Ukraine?

As a preeminent journalist of unquestionable pedigree, I am puzzled by the lack of context offered by the National Post's editor-at-large Diane Francis in her most recent Huffington Post blog.

A distinguished professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center, a Media Fellow at the World Economic Forum, a media advisor to graduate student teams at Singularity University in the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, she doesn't mention that Ukraine is a country cut in half by cultural and economic division.

There are the Russian speaking, Orthodox people in the eastern part of the country, in the economic driving centers of Ukraine like Kharkiv, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk. And the more impoverished, largely Catholic, places in the West such as Lviv and Uzhgorod. The capital Kyiv is smack dab in the middle of the country that is divided geographically by the river Dnieper which runs through the center of Ukraine. The people in Crimea, in the south, are pro-Russian.

Medvedev Questions Legitimacy Of Ukraine's New Government

MOSCOW (AP) — A successful Olympics behind him, President Vladimir Putin is facing what may become the most dramatic challenge of his rule: how to respond to the turmoil in Ukraine, a country he has declared vital for Russia's interests, which is home to millions of Russian-speakers and hosts a major Russian navy base.

Some in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east and south already have begged the Kremlin to help protect them against what they fear could be violence by the victorious protesters who toppled Ukraine's Moscow-backed leader. Putin has refrained from taking a public stance on Ukraine amid the Sochi Games, but the mounting tensions could quickly leave him with a stark choice: Stick to diplomacy and risk losing face at home, or open a Pandora's box by entering the fray.

Canada leads World Bank corruption list

More corrupt isn’t the kind of reputation Canada is looking for on the global stage.
Unfortunately, Canada leads on the World Bank's running list of people and companies barred from receiving financing under its fraud and corruption policy.
As it stands today, Canada has the most new entries on the list, with the addition of 119 people and companies. All but two of those total entries are from SNC-Lavalin and affiliated companies, a World Bank spokesman said Wednesday.

David Samson’s Tangled Web at the Port

Here’s an ironic example, uncovered by Christie Watch, of how tangled is the web involving Chris Christie, the Port Authority, its chairman David Samson, and Wolff & Samson: A key former member of Governor Chris Christie’s cabinet, who now works for the powerhouse and well-connected law firm Wolff & Samson, is overseeing a contract handed out to Wolff & Samson in August 2013 to audit the distribution of Sandy aid. Lori Grifa, who once headed Christie’s Department of Community Affairs, is the Wolff & Samson attorney in question, and it turns out that she also lobbied for the approval of the $1 billion development project in Hoboken that is at the center of charges that the administration threatened to withhold Sandy aid to Hoboken unless Mayor Dawn Zimmer approved the project.

20 Years Ago, an Army Veteran Reported a Sexual Assault. She’s Still Waiting for Justice.

When Brenda Hoster publicly accused the sergeant major of the Army of sexually assaulting her, it nearly destroyed her life. She thought it would be worth it.

“I felt like what I did was the right thing, the ethical thing, not just for me but for all military men and women,” Hoster, a retired sergeant major and public affairs specialist, said in one of two phone conversations. Her complaints against the Army’s top enlisted soldier were part of a wave of sex scandals that rocked the military in the 1990s. Today, Congress is still debating how to best reform the military justice system.

“Nothing’s changed. Why is that?” asked Hoster. “I feel like my journey was for nothing.”

Venezuela and the Hypocrisy of the International Left

As students and the middle class protest for almost two weeks in the streets of Venezuela, the international left remain silent. Why is this wide swath of Venezuelan society protesting? Because of meddling from the United States in preparation of a fascist coup, says Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Certainly lines borrowed from the Cuban/Soviet handbook.
Venezuelans are protesting because of 56 percent inflation, one of the highest in the world. Venezuelans are protesting because they have one of the highest murder rates in the world, 25,000 violent deaths last year, one person killed every twenty minutes. The murder rate in Caracas is 122 per 100,000, numbers not seen in war zones. They are in the streets because they don't have basic necessities such as bread, meat, toilet paper, electricity... the list is long.

Canada's Real Problem with Intrusive Foreign Interests

How much is Canada worth? About $33 trillion according to one recent reckoning, based only on our oil and timber resources. Those two commodities alone make Canada the fourth richest country on Earth, and number two on a per capita basis -- just behind Saudi Arabia. Divided between 35 million Canadians, every one of us is close to being a millionaire. Like the TV commercial says, you're richer than you think.

That $33 trillion does not include any of Canada's natural gas, wheat, fish, gold, potash or diamonds. Yet according to some bean counters, Alberta's oil sands and conventional oil reserves are worth more than all other Canadian resources put together -- a staggering $21 trillion.

Trayvon's Legacy: How Diversity Hides Racism

It is the age of Barack Obama, the age of Trayvon Martin; a son of Africa lives in the White House, a boy's life ends in Florida for the crime of walking home with a bag of sweets.

This summer we will mark the 50th anniversaries of Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act, next year Selma and the Voting Rights Act. On each occasion we will ask whether we yet judge each other by the content of our character rather than the colour of our skin. The answer, of course, is no -- and yes.

Canada's middle class 'mortgaging its future' with debt

Canada's middle-class is mortgaging its future to stay afloat, making the Canadian dream "a myth more than a reality."

That's the blunt assessment of an internal Conservative government report, an unvarnished account of the plight of middle-income families that's in contrast to the rosier economic picture in this month's budget.

Chinese Shift: Put the Environment Above GDP Growth

Qin Guangrong is the Communist Party Secretary of Yunnan Province, China

KUNMING -- Ecological and environmental issues have become strategic issues with a global bearing. As vividly put by some experts, if the 4-billion-year history of the Earth could be compressed to just 100 years, the most primitive plants and animals would only begin to appear in its 50s, and large reptiles like dinosaurs when the Earth hit 95 years of age.

Inequality, Productivity and WhatsApp

If you ever wonder what’s fueling America’s staggering inequality, ponder Facebook’s acquisition of the mobile messaging company WhatsApp.

According to news reports, Facebook has agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion.

That’s the highest price paid for a startup in history. It’s $3 billion more than Facebook raised when it was first listed, and more than twice what Microsoft paid for Skype.

#LaSalida? Venezuela at a Crossroads

Ukraine. Bosnia. Venezuela.

Tear gas. Masks. Water cannons.

Ours is an age of riots and rebellions, of radical self-creation in the heady streets: Spain’s indignados, the Occupy movement, Mexico’s Yo Soy 132, and of course the Arab Spring. We are understandably excited when we see people in the streets, and our pulse may even rise at the sight of masks, broken glass and flames, because for so long such images have represented the shards of the old world through which we can catch the perceptible glint of the new. Recent protests in Venezuela against the government of Chávez successor Nicolás Maduro might therefore seem to be simply the latest act in an upsurge of world-historic proportions.

Not so fast.

UAW Asks Labor Board For New Volkswagen Election, Citing 'Threats' By GOP Lawmakers

WASHINGTON -- After a narrow and devastating loss at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant last week, the United Auto Workers union has asked the federal labor board to set aside the election results because of "a firestorm of interference" from outside groups and politicians, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn).

The union submitted its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, according to a UAW press release. Labor board officials will now have to consider whether the statements by lawmakers interfered enough to potentially sway votes and taint the election. The board could essentially order a do-over.

Rick Perry: The Minimum Wage Is Not 'The Government's Business'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) let loose on his minimum wage views Friday, saying it's not "the government's business" to be setting that policy.

In a Friday appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Perry sparred with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) on the issue, citing the CBO's Tuesday report that estimates 500,000 jobs could be lost if the minimum wage were raised.

"At a time when jobs are at a premium in this country, the last thing you want to be doing is putting policies into place that would kill jobs," Perry said.

Quinn struck back, citing a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago assessment that every $1 raise to the minimum wage creates $2,800 in purchasing power.

"Let's put more money in the pocket," Quinn said.

Perry and Quinn's debate came hours ahead of President Barack Obama's weekly address calling on Congress to vote on the minimum wage issue. The bill the president was referencing would raise the current wage to $10.10 per hour.

"Hardworking Americans deserve better than 'no,'" Obama said. "Let’s tell Congress to say 'yes.' Pass that bill. Give America a raise. Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty – and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead."

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | by Chris Gentilviso

Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values

As ExxonMobil’s CEO, it’s Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. The oil company is the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S., relying on the controversial drilling technology to extract it.
The exception is when Tillerson’s $5 million property value might be harmed. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.

The Battle for Kiev

Odessa, Ukraine—The Ukrainian government and the president certainly have much to answer for. They permitted radicals to build a heavily armed encampment smack in the very heart of the nation’s capital and in violation of three separate court orders, all just a few yards away from the main government buildings. They have repeatedly given in to the intimidation of roving bands of armed and masked hooligans who, having now become a law unto themselves, endanger the lives of peaceful citizens. Just before the most recent spate of violence, during the “peaceful” interlude that followed the president’s last amnesty offer, for example, law enforcement officials stood by as a civic initiative known as “Kievans for a Clean City” was brutally assaulted near the Maidan.

Greek Financial Crisis Tied To Country's Rising Rates Of HIV, Depression, Infant Deaths

LONDON - Researchers say they have found new evidence that Greece's financial crisis is taking a toll on the health of its citizens, including rising rates of HIV, tuberculosis, depression and even infant deaths.

Since the economic crisis hit several years ago, the government's health spending has been slashed and hundreds of thousands of people have been left without health insurance. As cuts have been made to AIDS prevention programs, rates of HIV and tuberculosis in drug users have spiked.

CSIS still the cat in the birdcage

A few years ago, Canada's bird lovers came in for some well-deserved looks of bemusement when many wondered why their cute little budgies and canaries kept disappearing every time a cat was placed inside their birdcages. After all, it was argued, cats were subject to significant and robust oversight mechanisms such as the Feline Activities Review Committee, to ensure the birds would be safe from purring predators.
That refusal to recognize the nature of the beast also infects the ongoing discussions within the "national security industrial-academic-media complex" about what to do with the fact that Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), along with its next-door neighbor, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), continue invading the privacy rights of people at home and abroad and violating the law (not to mention committing perjury in front of Federal Court judges and aiding and abetting acts of torture).

Venezuela Cuts Off Internet, Blocks Communication For Protestors

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The battle for Venezuela is being fought as vigorously online as in the streets, with authorities cutting off the Internet to a clash-torn university city and blocking selected websites and a "walkie-talkie" service widely used by protesters.

A local TV reporter in San Cristobal, capital of the western border state of Tachira, said Thursday night that she could hear gunshots as teargas-firing police broke up protests just as they had the night before when Internet service was cut.

Oilsands Tailings Seeping Into Groundwater, Athabasca River: Federal Study

EDMONTON - New federal research has strongly backed suspicions that toxic chemicals from Alberta's vast oilsands tailings ponds are leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River.

Leakage from oilsands tailings ponds, which now cover 176 square kilometres, has long been an issue. Industry has acknowledged that seepage can occur and previous studies using models have estimated it at 6.5 million litres a day from a single pond.

Arctic Reindeer Reserve Offered Up For Oil, Gas Exploration: Documents

OTTAWA - Tracts of land that had been set aside for reindeer grazing in Canada's North have instead been offered up by the Conservative government for oil and gas exploration, newly released documents show.

Companies interested in obtaining petroleum exploration rights in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea region of the Northwest Territories were asked last year to nominate blocks of land that they wanted to see included in a subsequent call for bids.

Venezuela Protests Continue As Violence Escalates

CARACAS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Security forces faced off with demonstrators in streets blocked by burning barricades in several Venezuelan cities on Thursday in an escalation of protests against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government, witnesses said.

At least five people have died since protests turned violent last week, with scores injured and arrested.

The demonstrators, mainly students, blame the government for violent crime, high inflation, shortages of many products and the alleged repression of opponents.

United Airlines Cuts 240 Jobs In Canada, Outsources Them

CHICAGO - United Airlines says it is cutting 240 jobs in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

The U.S.-based airlines says the jobs, which include customer service agents and ramp agents, will now be outsourced.

There will be 95 jobs affected in Toronto; 84 in Vancouver and 61 in Calgary.

The cuts will become effective in three months.

United says the announcement does not have any effect on the number of flights the airline operates in Canada.

Company spokesperson Christen David said in an email that the cuts were difficult but necessary decisions for the airline to run a "more efficient and financially sustainable business."

Original Article
Author: CP

The vultures are circling over Canada Post

We have all been told that Canada Post is facing an impending crisis and that there is no alternative but to simply accept dramatic price increases, the end of home mail delivery and the loss of 8,000 living-wage jobs. We now know that this is a lie. A recent Access to Information request to Canada Postreveals that the crown corporation spent four years studying the idea of postal banking, declaring it a "proven diversification strategy." As it turns out, Canada Post management had developed a plan to save Canada Post -- and they decided to kill it instead. Why?

'Profiting Without Producing' stands to restrain finance and fight for socialism

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All

by Costas Lapavitsas
(Verso Books, 
Economics professor Costas Lapavitsas' new book Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All,delving into the elusive world of finance, that place where fortunes are made seemingly out of nothing, but with such dramatic impact on the world economy. Lapavitsas tackles one of the most innovative and perhaps most controversial concepts in political economy: financialization. Aaron Leonard recently corresponded with professor Lapavitsas via email to ask him about his new book and its wider implications. 

Debunking myths about Canada's middle class

As the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals compete for Canadians' trust, it begs the question: who are they talking about when they say "middle class?"
Who are middle class Canadians and is it true that this socioeconomic group is disappearing? This Globe and Mail article on the subject says it well, "Rather than shrinking wages, there is evidence to suggest the middle itself is being hollowed out. The proportion of people in middle-income families has shrunk since the mid-1990s, while a share of those at the lower and higher ends rose, Statistics Canada data show."

Ukraine Protests: Truce Fails To End Battles Between Police, Demonstrators

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Fearing that a call for a truce was a ruse, protesters tossed firebombs and advanced upon police lines Thursday in Ukraine's embattled capital. Government snipers shot back and the almost-medieval melee that ensued left at least 33 people dead.

Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes Thursday of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid. Trying to protect themselves with shields, teams of protesters carried bodies away on sheets of plastic or on planks of wood.

At US Science Confab, Two Energy Futures Duel Across the Hall

A short stroll across the hall at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago was a leap across a wide, wide, wide, philosophical chasm -- from a belief that humans can change, to one where they can't.

While one group of researchers explored the possibility of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050, the other group took on the Canadian environment versus economy debate about the Alberta oilsands.

In the emissions session, speakers treated the audience to a couple of useful and thoughtful critiques. Peter Loftus of Primaira LLC, a product development and commercialization company full of engineers, designers, and technicians based in Woburn, Massachusetts (they work on innovative appliance design, medical devices, food waste management, and other products), shared his review of major studies that map ways to drastically reduce emissions in less than 40 years.

For Refugees, Starting Over Just Got Harder

In six weeks, refugees arriving in British Columbia will no longer receive free help to cope with the traumas they endured before fleeing to Canada.

The change comes after Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) denied funding to refugee mental health services in B.C. As a result, organisations that have been offering free counselling programs for years will be forced to shut their doors to refugees effective as of March 31, 2014.