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, February 26, 2014

Saudi Arabia, Canada Sign Landmark US$10B Military Vehicle Deal

LONDON, Ont. - General Dynamics Land Systems - Canada has signed a contract worth at least US$10 billion to supply armoured vehicles and equipment, training and support services to Saudi Arabia.

The federal government said Friday that the 14-year contract will create and sustain more than 3,000 jobs in Canada.

Scientist Silencing Continues For Federally-Funded Research

At an annual conference in Truro, N.S., that brings fishermen and scientists together to promote ocean research, some researchers declined to discuss their work with media because they did not have approval to do so.

Scientists across the country have been expressing growing alarm over federal programs monitoring areas that range from climate change and ocean habitats to public health, worried Canadians are being deprived of crucial scientific information.

Conservatives Have Plenty Of Income Splitting Alternatives Available: Experts

OTTAWA - When the Conservative brain trust sits down to hash out a crowd-pleasing alternative to income splitting, hoping to undo the damage from backing off a key 2011 campaign promise, experts say there will be plenty of options on the table.

Critics of the controversial, three-year-old proposal — and there are many — say allowing spouses with children under 18 to share up to $50,000 of their income for tax purposes does little for low-income families and encourages one of the parents to stay out of the workforce.

Crimes Against Humanity Committed In North Korea, UN Panel Finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — A U.N. Commission of Inquiry has found that crimes against humanity have been committed in North Korea and recommends that its findings be referred to the International Criminal Court, two people familiar with the commission's report have told The Associated Press.

The commission, which conducted a yearlong investigation, has found evidence of an array of such crimes, including "extermination," crimes against humanity against starving populations and a widespread campaign of abductions of individuals in South Korea and Japan.

Comcast, Time Warner Cable Deal Is A Disaster For Customers

They say two wrongs don't make a right, and consumers are about to get proof of that with the merger of Comcast and Time Warner Cable.

The $45 billion merger announced Thursday might be a win for both companies, but it will be no victory for their combined 30 million customers, who are already among the least-happy customers in all of Corporate America.

South Dakota Bill Threatens Abortion Providers With Life In Prison

Doctors in South Dakota could face life in prison for performing virtually any abortion procedure under a new bill proposed by a Republican state lawmaker.

House Bill 1241 would make it a felony to perform any abortion procedure that causes a fetus to become "dismembered." Because fetuses are rarely removed completely intact during abortions, the bill could effectively ban the procedure entirely.

"This doesn't look like anything I've ever seen before," Elizabeth Nash, state issues manager for the Guttmacher Institute, told HuffPost. "It looks like it's trying to ban abortion using language that is completely unfamiliar and very inflammatory."

Former CEO: Executive Pay Is 'A Fraud'

You can blame the stagnant economy on a "handful of women and men" who run the country's largest companies. And that's according to a man who used to be one of those people.

Executive pay has gotten so out of hand, former AT&T Broadband CEO Leo Hindery told HuffPost Live on Thursday, that it has caused a "structural breakdown of the meritocracy of our nation."

Hindery pointed out that, even as CEO pay has skyrocketed in recent decades, it has not "trickled down" to workers, who must increasingly borrow money to finance their spending. That dynamic helped set the stage for the most recent recession and helps explain today's sluggish recovery.

TED Talks Don’t Cover Abortion Because They Say It Doesn’t Count As A Human Rights Issue

TED Talks, the award-winning videos produced by a nonprofit group of the same name, promise to cover “ideas worth spreading.” The videos feature public figures ranging from Bill Gates to Rick Warren, as well as leading intellectuals and scientists that don’t have as much name recognition, and they often go viral. In 2010, the organization launched TEDWomen, a spin-off intended to cover gender issues.

Cities say they weren’t consulted on new federal infrastructure funding rules

OTTAWA — Cities seeking fresh federal government infrastructure dollars may have some unexpected strings attached, based on new criteria unveiled Thursday by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

The lobby group representing Canadian cities, the Federation of the Canadian Municipalities, said the new criteria came as a surprise and has prompted concerns the government would reduce access to some funds for local roads, as well as imposing new caps on the amount of federal money – from a multibillion dollar infrastructure fund — that could be used for each project.

CSEC exoneration a 'mockery of public accountability'

A federal watchdog is attracting howls of protest from some privacy and internet experts after absolving Canada’s electronic spy agency of using data from a Canadian airport internet service to track thousands of passengers for days after they left the terminal.

The oversight body that monitors the super-secretive Communications Security Establishment Canada has concluded that the agency was not involved in “tracking of Canadians or persons in Canada.”

Election bill helps Tories exclusively

You have to admire Pierre Poilievre. Throughout the tabling of the laughable, lamentable Fair Elections Act, the minister of democratic reform managed somehow to keep a straight face.

Many others who witnessed the Tory government's assault on Elections Canada had much more trouble hiding their disbelief.

The new legislation is full of changes to the electoral landscape. It removes powers from the office of the chief electoral officer and gives them to a new independent commissioner of elections, who will now be solely responsible for investigating electoral transgressions.

It’s lights out for fair elections

Talk about getting even.

Not even J.R. Ewing could have improved on how Stephen Harper dispatched his longstanding enemies at Elections Canada and with something so innocuous sounding: the Fair Elections Act.

With euphemism, stealth, and his peculiar brand of blunt-object strategizing, Harper also took a few more bricks out of Canadian democracy. 

In at least one case, he took a chisel to the foundations — removing the investigatory function from Elections Canada regarding electoral cheating and effectively handing it over to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions.


Remember the “market freedom” the Harper Government was congratulating itself so heartily for delivering to Western Canada’s grain farmers a few weeks ago?

To create that “freedom,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and the trained seals in the federal Tory caucus have all but killed the Canadian Wheat Board. Now the freedom they boast about is killing the prices farmers get for their grain and enriching railroads and multinational food corporations.

Gee, who’d have predicted that?

The baffling silence of the backbench

Who can explain the Silence of the Cons?

I don’t mean the cabinet snake-oil parodies on the nightly news — the ones who would sell their mothers, not to mention Canada’s veterans, down the river for a chauffeur and a fat paycheque.

I am talking about the ones who let Julian Fantino and Stephen Harper turn their names to mud back home with the people who sent them to Ottawa. 

Does anyone seriously believe that Conservative MPs are getting fan-mail over the atrocious disrespect the Harper government has shown to soldiers, ex-soldiers and their families? After all, the PM once said these soldiers were the best of Canadians. Is it likely these silent MPs will be greeted with brass bands when they return to their ridings?

Ex-Morgan Stanley Chief Jams Foot in Mouth, Complains of CEO Abuse

There's a ton of interesting stuff going on in the Wall Street sphere of late – I'm trying to find some time to do a proper write-up of the extraordinary lawsuit just filed by the Better Markets advocacy group against Eric Holder's Justice Department, seeking to invalidate the $13 billion JP Morgan Chase settlement – but one particular thing happened this week that just can't go by without comment.

John Mack, the former CEO of Morgan Stanley and one of the more irritatingly unrepentant dickheads of the crisis era, gave an incredible interview to Bloomberg TV. In a discussion about executive pay, Mack said we're all being too rough on his fellow too-big-to-fail bank CEOs.

He would love, he said, "to see people stop beating up on Lloyd and Jamie," endearingly referring to Goldman chief Lloyd Blankfein and Chase chief Jamie Dimon by their first names (Mack must be in a bowling league with both men). He added: "I think that would make a lot of sense, and I'm in favor of that."

U.S. Attorney's Office Probing North Carolina Officials Following Coal Ash Spill

Federal authorities have initiated an investigation into the North Carolina Department of Environment and Natural Resources following last week's coal ash spill in the Dan River.

The Associated Press first obtained a copy of a grand jury subpoena that the U.S. attorney’s office in Raleigh issued requesting emails, memos and reports from the department dating back to 2010. The subpoena compels counsel for the DENR to appear before a grand jury March 18 to 20.

For-Profit Probation Companies Target the Poor

For-profit probation companies reap financial incentives in their assault on the poor through abusive and disproportionate punishment for minor offenses. Human Rights Watch takes a closer look:

Every year, U.S. courts sentence several hundred thousand misdemeanor offenders to probation overseen by private companies that charge their fees directly to the probationers. Often, the poorest people wind up paying the most in fees over time, in what amounts to a discriminatory penalty. And when they can’t pay, companies can and do secure their arrest.

The 72-page report, “Profiting from Probation: America’s ‘Offender-Funded’ Probation Industry,” describes how more than 1,000 courts in several U.S. states delegate tremendous coercive power to companies that are often subject to little meaningful oversight or regulation. In many cases, the only reason people are put on probation is because they need time to pay off fines and court costs linked to minor crimes. In some of these cases, probation companies act more like abusive debt collectors than probation officers, charging the debtors for their services.

One of these stories is about Thomas Barrett, who landed in jail for three months for stealing a can of beer. The for-profit firm Sentinel Offender Services decided this was apt punishment to ensure Barrett would pay his fees. He wound up more than $1,000 in debt despite the fact that he was selling his own blood plasma twice a week to pay his dues.

Original Article
Author:  Donald Kaufman

The Empowerment Elite Claims Feminism

At first, I wasn’t sure why TEDWOMEN—the feminist-minded spin-off of TED Talks that launched in 2010—troubled me. The San Francisco conference held this past December featured incredible speakers and performers. Swimmer Diana Nyad inspired. Poet Sarah Kay received a standing ovation. And Jane Chen—co-founder of a company that invented an affordable, portable infant-warming system for communities in India without incubators—brought this mom of a preemie to tears. But the impressive participants weren’t enough to quell my uneasiness.

It might have been the homogeneity of the audience—mostly white women with coiffed hair—or the gift bag so voluminous that it required a “gift bag guide.” Maybe it was the ticket price: nearly $1,000. (Though TED’s general conference costs more than seven times that much. Maybe this was TEDWomen’s gender-wage-gap bargain?)

Temporary Foreign Worker Rules To Be Loosened After Business Outcry

OTTAWA - The next spate of changes to Canada's controversial temporary foreign workers program will likely include a limited fast track for workers in high-demand professions in regions of the country with low unemployment, says Employment Minister Jason Kenney.

The government plans to introduce Round 2 of its changes to the program in April, Kenney said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

Harper: Income-Splitting Discussion Must Wait Until Budget Is Balanced

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has developed cold feet on a major campaign promise, and is working on a compromise that will both attract voters and keep the Conservative caucus and voter base happy.

Senior Conservative sources said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was simply reflecting internal discussions when he suddenly raised doubts this week about the feasibility of expanding income splitting to Canadian families.

Under the 2011 campaign promise, parents would be able to pool up to $50,000 of income when filing taxes to reduce their overall hit. But the measure would benefit only certain types of families, particularly those with one parent who does not work.

Harper seeks compromise on campaign promise

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper has developed cold feet on a major campaign promise, and is working on a compromise that will both attract voters and keep the Conservative caucus and voter base happy.

Senior Conservative sources said Finance Minister Jim Flaherty was simply reflecting internal discussions when he suddenly raised doubts this week about the feasibility of expanding income splitting to Canadian families.

Under the 2011 campaign promise, parents would be able to pool up to $50,000 of income when filing taxes to reduce their overall hit. But the measure would benefit only certain types of families, particularly those with one parent who does not work.

Tory accuses Mayrand of political activism

OTTAWA - The Harper government has opened up a new front in its war with the chief elections watchdog, accusing him of engaging in political activism against its controversial overhaul of the country's election laws.

Conservative MP Tom Lukiwski said Thursday it was inappropriate for chief electoral officer Marc Mayrand to criticize the government's proposed electoral reform bill during a private meeting with his own staff.

Lukiwski is parliamentary secretary to the government House leader and the Conservatives' lead hitter on the Commons committee charged with studying the bill.

Exclusive Data Paints Troubling Picture Of Skyrocketing CEO Pay

The rise in U.S. income inequality in recent decades is largely due to massive wealth accumulating at the top of the income scale. The press and popular culture treat this phenomenon almost as if natural forces were guiding it -- an invisible hand dealing out different shares to different people.

But the hands doing the dealing are in fact quite visible. They belong to the directors of the boards of the major companies in the U.S. and around the globe. One key source of wealth at the very top is the pay of the executives of our largest companies. That pay is approved by corporate directors, who are themselves paid for their service. Many of those directors are also executives at other companies, meaning they sit on both sides of the arrangement.

Here's Why The Richest Nation In The World Still Can't Get Health Care Right

WASHINGTON -- Five years ago, U.S. President Barack Obama and his Democratic Party had a crazy idea that maybe the richest nation in the history of the world should do something to make its fragmented, inequitable and very expensive health care system a little better.

Climate change is here now and it could lead to global conflict

The record rainfall and storm surges that have brought flooding across the UK are a clear sign that we are already experiencing the impacts of climate change.

Many commentators have suggested that we are suffering from unprecedented extreme weather. There are powerful grounds for arguing that this is part of a trend.

Four of the five wettest years recorded in the UK have occurred from the year 2000 onwards. Over that same period, we have also had the seven warmest years.

Distorting Russia

The degradation of mainstream American press coverage of Russia, a country still vital to US national security, has been under way for many years. If the recent tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles in leading newspapers and magazines—particularly about the Sochi Olympics, Ukraine and, unfailingly, President Vladimir Putin—is an indication, this media malpractice is now pervasive and the new norm.

There are notable exceptions, but a general pattern has developed. Even in the venerable New York Times and Washington Post, news reports, editorials and commentaries no longer adhere rigorously to traditional journalistic standards, often failing to provide essential facts and context; to make a clear distinction between reporting and analysis; to require at least two different political or “expert” views on major developments; or to publish opposing opinions on their op-ed pages. As a result, American media on Russia today are less objective, less balanced, more conformist and scarcely less ideological than when they covered Soviet Russia during the Cold War.

Former West Virginia Miner: We've Been Dumping Those Chemicals In The Water For Decades

When up to 7,500 gallons of toxic 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) spilled into the Elk River in West Virginia, leaving 300,000 people without tap water for around a week, former miner Joe Stanley was well prepared. He hadn’t been drinking the water for years.

Stanley, 64, worked at West Virginia's Marrowbone Coal Mine from 1981 to 1996. His employer was Massey Energy, the same company responsible for the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster in 2010 that killed 29 miners and which was bought out in 2011.


In the magazine this week, Jeffrey Toobin writes about Attorney General Eric Holder and his efforts to enforce the principles of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. In the Shelby County v. Holder decision of June, 2013, the Supreme Court declared Section 4 of the Act unconstitutional by a vote of five to four, arguing, in essence, that the provision was no longer necessary nearly fifty years after the civil-rights era. Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., wrote the majority opinion, and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned the dissent, joined by the three other Democratic appointees to the Court.

Section 4 outlined a formula for identifying jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination. These places included many states in the South and various counties and townships scattered across the country. Under Section 5 of the Act, these places were required to receive “preclearance” from the federal government before making any changes to voting laws. Though the Supreme Court didn’t render an opinion on Section 5, striking down Section 4 rendered it punchless—without a coverage formula, there are no places that require preclearance.

In Central African Republic, Muslim Exodus Threatens Food Crisis

BANGUI, Feb 11 (Reuters) - An exodus of Muslim traders fleeing attacks by Christian militia in Central African Republic has pushed food markets there to the brink of collapse, threatening the nation with even deeper crisis.

The United Nations estimates that 1.3 million people - more than a quarter of the population - are already in need of urgent food aid after months of communal violence that French and African peacekeepers have been unable to stop.

People of Color Are Losing Their Right to Vote

“I found myself standing in front of railroad tracks in South Florida. I was waiting on the train to come so I could jump in front of it and end my life.” So recounted Desmond Meade, describing his life nine years ago. He was homeless, unemployed, recently released from prison and addicted to drugs and alcohol. The train never came. He crossed the tracks and checked himself into a substance-abuse program. He went on to college, and now is just months away from receiving his law degree.

Meade, however, will not be able to practice law in Florida. As a former felon, he cannot join the bar. That is one of his rights that has been stripped, permanently, by Florida’s draconian laws. In a democracy, if one wants to change a law, you vote for lawmakers who will represent your views. Yet, as an ex-felon in Florida, Meade also has lost the right to vote for the rest of his life.

BP Oil Spill: Dolphins Plagued By Death, Disease Years After Rig Explosion

Missing teeth. Lung disease. Extreme hormone levels.

Four years after BP's Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, gushing some 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico, the region is rife with death and disease, according to a major U.S. study.

The peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology, is the first of its kind since the devastating spill.

Beijing Smog Makes City 'Barely Suitable' For Life, Report Says

SHANGHAI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Severe pollution in Beijing has made the Chinese capital "barely suitable" for living, according to an official Chinese report, as the world's second largest economy tries to reduce often hazardous levels of smog caused by decades of rapid growth.

Pollution is a rising concern for China's stability-obsessed leaders, keen to douse potential unrest as affluent city dwellers turn against a growth-at-all-costs economic model that has tainted much of the country's air, water and soil.

Stephen Harper: $3-Billion Military Equipment Purchases Hold Not A Cut

OTTAWA - Defence officials call it the "options analysis" phase — and following the Harper government's postponement of $3.1 billion in military equipment spending, the bureaucratic buzz phrase is likely to become even more popular around National Defence in the coming years.

A series of purchases — some deemed "urgent" for almost decade — are stuck in that departmental, managerial, organizational and perhaps even decision-making limbo.

Jason Kenney: Canada Job Grant will lead to guaranteed jobs

Details announced in Tuesday's federal budget aimed at delivering guaranteed jobs under the proposed Canada Job Grant shouldn't come as a surprise to the provinces, Employment Minister Jason Kenney told CBC News in an exclusive interview Wednesday.

"What we simply clarified in yesterday's budget is what I've said all along, which is that if provinces choose not to deliver the job grant, we will deliver it directly to Canadians so they get good jobs," Kenney said in an exclusive interview with CBC's Julie Van Dusen on Wednesday.

Tory senators expense business-class flights with spouses

The top-spending Conservative senators routinely purchased high-priced business class airfares and repeatedly used public money to bring spouses with them on trips to Ottawa, even as the Senate expense scandal was in full swing last fall.

In one case, Senator Scott Tannas of Alberta billed $12,000 to taxpayers to fly himself and his wife in executive class to Ottawa for a two-day trip.

Income Splitting: So Divisive It's Splitting the Tories

Discouraging women from working outside the home is surely not an appropriate goal for tax policy. But that may just be the motivation behind the Harper government's plan to introduce "income splitting" for families -- an expensive tax gift to traditional families with one breadwinner and a stay at home spouse.

The gift is already proving costly to Conservative party unity. The Harper government's own finance minister is speaking out against the policy that would deprive the treasury of tax revenues while benefitting mainly big earners.

The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks' Most Devious Scam Yet

Call it the loophole that destroyed the world. It's 1999, the tail end of the Clinton years. While the rest of America obsesses over Monica Lewinsky, Columbine and Mark McGwire's biceps, Congress is feverishly crafting what could yet prove to be one of the most transformative laws in the history of our economy – a law that would make possible a broader concentration of financial and industrial power than we've seen in more than a century.

But the crazy thing is, nobody at the time quite knew it. Most observers on the Hill thought the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999 – also known as the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act – was just the latest and boldest in a long line of deregulatory handouts to Wall Street that had begun in the Reagan years.

The U.S. Is Locking People Up For Being Poor

Virginia Dickerson says she’s devoted the last three years to recovering from the drug problems that entangled her in the criminal justice system throughout her teens and 20s.

Now in her mid-30s, she’s been out of prison for more than a year, working 30 hours a week as a cook and server at a restaurant in Richland, Wash. She says she’s also looking for a full-time job, and volunteering for two organizations that help people overcome addictions and a third that provides arts programs to teens.

Still, if she fails to pay off the $8,000 in fines that she still owes county courts in southern Washington as a result of her arrests several years ago, she could end up right back in jail. District and Superior courts in Benton County ordered her to pay a total of $130 a month toward fines and fees stemming from two drug arrests in 2010 and 2011, one for possession of methamphetamines and the other for delivery. Dickerson was fined about $6,000 for her two drug charges, but has accrued about $2,000 in interest.

Unemployed Americans Increasingly Frustrated With Congressional Inaction

WASHINGTON -- When Senate Democrats fell just one vote short of advancing a bill to restore long-term unemployment insurance last Thursday, Russ Holton wept.

"Imagine that, a 44-year-old man crying while watching TV," he said. He had watched the vote on C-SPAN 2. A day later, his cable provider cut him off because he hadn't paid the bill.

Holton is one of the 1.7 million long-term unemployed people missing out on federal benefits because Congress stopped providing them in December. Six years ago, he was making $85,000 per year at his job in tech sales. Today, the seams of his life are fraying.

U.S. Plunges in Global Press Freedom Rankings as Obama Wages "War on Whistleblowers"

A new survey of press freedom around the world finds the United States has plunged 13 spots, now ranking just 46th among 180 countries. The annual survey by Reporters Without Borders also says Syria is the most dangerous country for journalists, showing a correlation between conflict zones and a low level of press freedom. Other countries that fell lower than in the previous year’s survey include the civil-war-torn Central African Republic, down 43 spots to 109, and Guatemala, where four journalists were killed last year alone. This comes as the United Nations General Assembly recently adopted its first resolution on the safety of journalists. The group has now called on the United Nations to monitor how member states meet their obligations to protect reporters. We are joined by Delphine Halgand of Reporters Without Borders.

Author: --

From Jail to Law School: Jim Crow-Era Law Bars Florida Man from Voting, Taking Bar, Serving on Jury

Branding them "unnecessary and unjust," Attorney General Eric Holder is urging the repeal of state laws that prohibit formerly incarcerated people from voting, a move that would restore the right to vote to nearly six million people. Holder’s call is largely symbolic since the federal government cannot force states to change their voting laws. But civil rights groups and advocates are praising Holder for advancing a critical step in reforming the criminal justice system. We are joined by Desmond Meade, president of the Florida Rights Restoration Coalition. Meade is one of more than 1.3 million citizens in Florida who have lost their right to vote due to prior felony convictions. After overcoming homelessness and addiction, Meade is now finishing up a law degree — but like the right to vote, Florida statutes also stand to prohibit him from taking the bar and being able to practice law.

Author: --

Maine Gov. Paul LePage Looks Set To Reject Overdose Prevention For No Good Reason

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) appears set to oppose a bill increasing access to a lifesaving anti-overdose medication because of concerns rejected by public health experts that it could encourage more drug abuse, according to the bill's chief sponsor.

Fatal heroin overdoses in Maine quadrupled from 2011 to 2012. Naloxone is a drug that can reverse overdoses from heroin and other opioids like morphine. State Rep. Sara Gideon (D) is sponsoring legislation that would place the drug, which is sold under the trade name Narcan, in the hands of police, firefighters, at-risk users and their families.

Harper and the New Corporatism

A do-nothing budget? Hardly. The Conservatives have once again proven that they are happy to do lots of things, albeit in a most schizophrenic way.

On the one hand, they will continue downsizing government operations, trimming public sector compensation by $7.4 billion over six years. On the other, they will increase state intervention in the economy, spending billions of dollars on job creation programs and corporate welfare. Not every industry is their friend, of course: They’re also hiking cigarette taxes by $4 a carton and will index the tax to inflation every five years.

Call it the New Corporatism, a world where Ottawa’s leaner-but-increasingly-visible hand firmly clasps that of the private sector. 

Jim Flaherty wins gold medal for illusion in federal budget

OTTAWA—By reaching under the couch cushions for loose change and unwrapping some rolled-up nickels, Jim Flaherty gave the impression of at least a little action in hisbudget tabled Tuesday.
It may have looked like the finance minister was moving to help consumers, jobless youth and the marginalized in this country, but his effort is sprinkled with some of the smallest numbers ever published in a budget book.
This was not a budget meant to shift Canadians’ focus off the slopes and ice rinks of Sochi. But Flaherty has earned gold for illusion.

Key DFO Library Closure Questions Go Unanswered: Scientists

A federal government reply to a New Democratic query about the closure of seven famed libraries operated by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) leaves many questions unanswered, scientists say.

In response to a letter from NDP MPs Kennedy Stewart and Robert Chisholm expressing concern about the closures, Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea explained that the decision to close the libraries champions modernization, as "more Canadians turn to electronic sources of information, and in-person visits are no longer the main way that people use libraries."