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, October 30, 2014

Women, Minorities Earn Far Less In Private Sector Than Public: CCPA

OTTAWA - A new report says it pays to work in the public sector — especially if you're a minority.

The study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives found that overall, full-time wages in public sector jobs are 2.3 per cent higher than those in the private sector.

But it also found that government workers who are female, Aboriginal, or belong to a visible minority group do much better from a relative wage standpoint than their counterparts at private companies.

John Major, Retired Supreme Court Justice, Warns Over 'Knee-Jerk' Reaction To Ottawa Attack

OTTAWA — The Conservative government is rushing to introduce legislation that expands law enforcement powers in ways that it may not need, retired Supreme Court justice John Major suggested Wednesday.

“It’s a knee-jerk reaction because, I think, the government feels like they need to do something,” the judge who led the inquiry into the 1985 Air India bombing told reporters. “They get constituents, undoubtedly, and people like the press saying ‘What are you going to do about this,’ so the impetus is to act quickly and, sometimes, not so wisely.”

'Party of One': An Indictment of Stephen Harper -- Seeking a documented record of eight years of deliberate misrule? This is your book.

  • Party of One: Stephen Harper and Canada's Radical Makeover
  • Michael Harris
  • Viking (2014)

If the news cycle is 24 hours, the public's attention span is that of a gerbil on crystal meth. Today's outrage is next week's shrug and next month's blank stare.

Conservative politicians not only understand this phenomenon, they revel in it. They've even turned it into a talking point. Asked by reporters about the current scandal, they don't even bother to defend themselves. They just smirk and say, "Most Canadians don't care."

Are Canada's Corporate Giants Re-engineering US Politics?

Canadian corporations helped raise significant amounts of money for political parties in the United States and spent big bucks on lobbying efforts, according to a paper released Wednesday.

The report, from the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), details involvement of Canadian corporations in Political Action Committees (PACs) and lobbying in the U.S. this year. The group is an advocate for ethical investment.

Author Kevin Thomas hopes the report draws attention to how Canadian corporate donations affect politics here and outside the country, and a lack of transparency for investors.

Greetings, from the Balmy Tarsands

The mercury hits an all-time high in Fort McMurray, Alberta earlier this month. At 22.6 degrees Celsius, it feels more like the middle than the tail end of baseball season, and the radio waves are a-gush with expressions of glee at the clemency of the holiday weekend weather.

If anyone pauses to reflect on the cause of what Environment Canada reports as "well above normal temperatures" in Alberta at the time, I don't hear it, and I certainly don't see it. Fort McMurray goes about its business, leading the country in EBIs (emissions batted in), seemingly oblivious to its outsized contribution to Canada's -- and the world's -- unfolding climate crisis.

Distinction between terrorist or murderer label is important

OTTAWA—On the day the nation mourned Nathan Cirillo in Hamilton — my hometown, a rock of dignity and duty, where the collar is proudly worn blue and no one messes with our national symbols — it’s understandable that we wouldn’t spend a lot of time trying to characterize his killer.

It somehow felt disrespectful to analyze the shooter’s actions as we watched five-year-old Marcus Cirillo trail his father’s casket down York Boulevard.

More Surveillance Punishes Canadians, Not Terrorists

The potential destruction of terrorism is infinitesimally smaller than the damage done to our rights by a disproportionate attempt to prevent it.

Please. Please remember this. It's even more important now, when that fact is so easily forgotten in the wake of the attack on our Parliament and the tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.

We cannot allow the extreme actions of a few to strip us of the freedoms those soldiers worked so hard to protect. But the Canadian government continues to roll back our rights in the name of "security."

Gary Moostoos, Aboriginal Outreach Worker, Banned From Edmonton Mall

Gary Moostoos, an aboriginal outreach worker in Edmonton, says he was kicked out a mall after being profiled by security workers.

Moostoos, a well-repected elder and cultural support worker at Boyle Street Community Services, told CTV News he was eating in the City Centre Mall food court Monday afternoon when he was approached by security guards who demanded his name.

Wrongfully Convicted African-Americans Wait Longer To Be Exonerated Than Others: Study

It took 18 years for DNA evidence to surface that cleared Derrick Williams of a rape and attempted kidnapping in Florida. Prosecutors had relied on the testimony of the victim, who identified Williams as her attacker in 1992. But he walked free at age 48 in 2011 because his DNA didn't match that left on a gray T-shirt by the actual perpetrator.

Verizon is launching a tech news site that bans stories on U.S. spying

Verizon is getting into the news business. What could go wrong?

The most-valuable, second-richest telecommunications company in the world is bankrolling a technology news site called The publication, which is now hiring its first full-time editors and reporters, is meant to rival major tech websites like Wired and the Verge while bringing in a potentially giant mainstream audience to beat those competitors at their own game.

Canada: Decoding Harper’s Terror Game. Beneath the Masks and Diversions

Stephen Harper is the most deeply reviled Prime Minister in Canada’s history. On the world stage,  he is the servant of Big Oil boiling oil out of tar-sands to destroy major river systems and pollute the planet with dirty oil, while his attack dog John Baird leads the warmongering and bullying of nations like Iran and Syria targeted by the US-Israeli axis.

He is the most despotic and toxic first minister in the life of our country. His administration defunds every social program and life protective system it can. It strips the country of its public information infrastructures at every level – including now the gagging of non-profit NGO’s by eliminating their charitable status if they question any policy of his regime.
Just as his friend George Bush Jr., Harper holds government by big-money backing, continual lies, attack ads, and life-blind policies to enrich the already rich. Canada’s neo-con political class may have its head on backwards, but Harper is very cunning in skirting, subverting and perverting the law to abuse power at every level. He is the poster boy of the global corporate agenda of wrecking society and its common life support systems.  

Ottawa shooting not terrorism, says Thomas Mulcair

OTTAWA—New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair said he would not label killing of a solider at the National War Memorial and the attack on Parliament Hill by gunman Michael Zehaf-Bibeau as a terrorist act.

“I don’t think that we have enough evidence to use that word,” Mulcair told reporters Wednesday after emerging from the NDP caucus meeting held in the same room where MPs had cowered below tables while hearing gunfire outside a week earlier.

Trudeau talks tough on terrorism, but says laws must be balanced with rights

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau has signalled his party may support the Conservative government’s forthcoming security legislation, while Official Opposition NDP leader Tom Mulcair says he is not sure last week’s shooting attack in Ottawa was terrorism.

Trudeau indicated Wednesday after a caucus meeting that he accepts the RCMP’s statements that recent attacks were “acts of terrorism.”

Later, he urged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to create an all-party national security oversight committee to keep track of how security is beefed up. “Keeping Canadians safe in a way consistent with Canadian values is one of our highest responsibilities,” Trudeau told the House of Commons.

Transport Canada aware of deadly GM defect 8 months before recall

Transport Canada was aware of a potential problem with ignition switches in the Chevrolet Cobalt eight months before General Motors Canada issued a recall notice for the deadly defect, the fifth estate has learned.

General Motors has so far accepted 29 wrongful death claims related to the ignition switch failure in the U.S. and Canada. In all, it has received claims for more than 150 deaths.

One Canadian death has been linked to the defect. But an investigation by the fifth estate and Radio-Canada's Enquete reveals that the faulty GM ignition switch is being probed as the "probable explanation" of a second fatal crash that occurred in Quebec just over one month after the recall.

Do police and spies need more power?

On Tuesday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry used the 't' word -- terrorism -- to describe the violent events of last week in Ottawa and Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.
It's not surprising, since the Canadian government itself freely uses that characterization.
Others still insist that these events were the product of severely disaffected individuals, not the work of organized conspirators.
In other words, the violent events of last week were, as the Quebec Health Minister said, more matters of psychiatry than national security.
In a way, it is all a semantic argument.
The folks on both sides don't really disagree much on the facts.

MacKay weighs new laws to curb online terror ‘promotion’

Justice Minister Peter MacKay says he is studying whether to adopt legislation to prohibit terrorists or their sympathizers from using the web to promote their causes.

Speaking to reporters on the way in to the Conservative caucus meeting this morning – the first since a lone gunman breached House of Commons security and died in a gunfight with security officials and police – MacKay said the internet-based tools being used to radicalize young Canadians is one of the elements Justice officials are studying.

Government Agencies Are Secretly Going Through Your Snail Mail, Too

Apparently the National Security Agency is not the only government organization violating Americans’ privacy rights by collecting massive amounts of data. It turns out law enforcement agencies and the U.S. Postal Service are also looking through our mail. So much for the “sweet land of liberty.”

Why the Notion of the Self-Taught, Self-Made Billionaire Is a Lie

A look at the educational background of the 1 percent, courtesy of the Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census, reveals that the “rags to riches” narrative we’re fed about the rich being “self-taught self-starters” is a fallacy. The world’s billionaires are “disproportionately likely” to have received a degree at one of several elite (and, one could add, elitist) institutions, most of which can be found in the U.S., and then get tax breaks by donating to the universities that helped them make their billions.

The Crisis in U.S.-Israel Relations Is Officially Here

The other day I was talking to a senior Obama administration official about the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most. “The thing about Bibi is, he’s a chickenshit,” this official said, referring to the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, by his nickname.

This comment is representative of the gloves-off manner in which American and Israeli officials now talk about each other behind closed doors, and is yet another sign that relations between the Obama and Netanyahu governments have moved toward a full-blown crisis. The relationship between these two administrations— dual guarantors of the putatively “unbreakable” bond between the U.S. and Israel—is now the worst it's ever been, and it stands to get significantly worse after the November midterm elections. By next year, the Obama administration may actually withdraw diplomatic cover for Israel at the United Nations, but even before that, both sides are expecting a showdown over Iran, should an agreement be reached about the future of its nuclear program.

China Could Punish Hong Kong If Protests Continue: Ex-Central Bank Chief

HONG KONG, Oct 29 (Reuters) - A member of China's central bank's advisory body warned on Wednesday that Beijing will punish Hong Kong if pro-democracy protests that have paralyzed parts of the Chinese-controlled financial center for a month are allowed to continue.

Joseph Yam, executive vice president of advisory body China Society for Finance and Banking and a former Hong Kong central bank chief, said the city's financial integrity and stability of its currency were also at risk.

"Hong Kong's economic prosperity was built on its intermediary role between the mainland and overseas, especially in the financial realm," said Yam, who urged student protesters to return to their homes.

Budapest autumn: hollowing out democracy on the edge of Europe

On the Hungarian plain south-west of Budapest, the rich, dark soil of Kishantos presents the saddest of sights. As far as the eye can see, a cornucopia of organic wheat, cereals, sunflowers, pulses and legumes has been turned into a vista of emptiness.

In what appears to be an extraordinary act of vindictive destruction, a lifetime’s work in Hungary has been destroyed in only a few months.

Eva Acs, an agronomist who has run the thriving organic farm for 22 years, is at her wits’ end. “The state just took the farm away. We were absolutely punished and rubbed out. Then the private security firms came in and closed down the roads and blocked the tractors. The new owners destroyed all our plants and crops. Just to bankrupt us and hurt us.”

Landowner refuses to surrender property for Energy East pipeline

Rick Verge was shocked when a TransCanada land agent knocked on his door in Titusville, N.B., last year and offered him $1000 to conduct a land survey in exchange for his signature. He refused. He said the land agent showed him a photo in a brochure of what his land would look like after TransCanada was finished with construction.

The only problem is that the photo in the brochure was a field where there is now a forest, said Verge.

“It’s a forest we use all the time. We have trails through there, campfires, it’s used regularly. To cut a 300 foot swath right through the middle of that, which is what they plan to do, would wreck it,” said Verge.

Homelessness In Canada Report: Add $46 A Year Per Canadian To Housing Budget, Cut Homelessness

OTTAWA - Spending an extra $46 per Canadian a year on affordable housing could dramatically reduce homelessness, a new research report concludes.

Existing intervention programs can only go so far if those who find a way off the streets or out of shelters can't afford their own place to live, say researchers from York University and the Canadian Alliance to End Homelessness.

Their annual State of Homelessness in Canada study was published today.

Revenue Canada's letters full of gobbledegook, internal report finds

The next time you puzzle over an indecipherable letter or notice from the Canada Revenue Agency, don't blame yourself: even the tax department acknowledges it churns out a lot of gobbledegook.

A study of the agency last month confirms the millions of communications that bureaucrats send to taxpayers each year are poorly organized, confusing, unprofessional, unduly severe, bureaucratic, one-sided and just plain dense.

All that gibberish comes with a human cost: confused taxpayers swamp the agency's call centres with needless telephone inquiries, or they send thousands of letters to tax offices asking for clarification.

Why Turning Out the Vote Makes a Huge Difference in Four Charts

Despite the best efforts of Lil' Jon, the most recent Gallup poll suggests that turnout in the upcoming midterm election will be one of the lowest in the last five cycles. If trends hold up, it will also be heavily biased in favor of the rich (see chart). This turnout gap will have important effects on elections and policy.

Seattle Times 'Outraged' Over FBI's Fake News Story To Catch Bomb-Threat Suspect

The Seattle Times expressed outrage Monday night after a report revealed that the FBI had created a fake news story mimicking the paper to catch the suspect behind multiple high school bomb threats in 2007.
Documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) show that a false story created by the FBI in Seattle was posted on a fake web page "in the style of The Seattle Times," along with an Associated Press byline, in order to track down a young suspect believed to be involved in a number of bomb threats to Timberline High School. The link was sent to the suspect's MySpace account, and, when clicked on, would provide the FBI with further information and details on the suspects location, the Times said.

BREAKING: Court Refuses To Intervene In Case of 40,000 Missing Voters In Georgia

ATLANTA, GEORGIA—On Tuesday, Judge Christopher Brasher of the Fulton County Superior Court denied a petition from civil rights advocates to force Georgia’s Secretary of State to process an estimated 40,000 voter registrations that have gone missing from the public database.
Though early voting is well underway in the state, Judge Brasher called the lawsuit “premature,” and said it was based on “merely set out suspicions and fears that the [state officials] will fail to carry out their mandatory duties.”

If the GOP Takes the Senate, Climate-Change Deniers Will Control Key Committees

It wasn’t long ago that coal executives were openly discussing their dream of Republicans seizing the White House and making Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe—who believes climate change is a “hoax” concocted by greedy scientists—the head of the EPA.
Now, they have a second chance. As dark-money groups and Super PACs backed by millions of dollars from the fossil-fuel industry are propelling Republicans to a Senate majority, climate science–denying politicians are likely to seize control of key committee chairmanships, a coup for companies seeking to pollute the atmosphere with impunity. What’s more, Inhofe is slated to become chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, with oversight of the EPA.

Forget Suburbs vs. City, Toronto Is Now Divided Along Income Lines

Last night in Toronto, a bunch of lawn-mowing, SUV-driving suburbanites got together with a bunch of bike-riding, latte-sipping downtown yuppies and elected John Tory mayor.
So Toronto's great political divide, the City versus the Suburbs, has finally been conquered, right? Yes. And no. That is to say, it never really existed.

What happened last night was that the city's true and growing division came to light.

USA Today's Susan Page Says Obama Administration Most 'Dangerous' To Press In U.S. History

Yet another journalist has come out against the seemingly unprecedented secrecy of the Obama administration.
USA Today Washington Bureau Chief Susan Page said at a White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) event on Saturday that the current administration is more threatening to press freedom than "any administration in American history." Page said she was "really worried" about what could happen if the White House continues to prevent reporters from doing their job of telling the news and telling the truth.

Police In Ferguson Stock Up On Riot Gear Ahead Of Grand Jury Decision

WASHINGTON -- The St. Louis County Police Department has stocked up on tear gas, less-lethal ammunition and plastic handcuffs in anticipation of massive protests in the suburb of Ferguson, Missouri, if a grand jury doesn't indict the police officer who killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. The jury is expected to reach its decision sometime in November.

Many protesters in Ferguson do not believe that Officer Darren Wilson will be indicted and contend that recent grand jury leaks are meant to prepare the public for that decision.

Tim Hortons Sale To Burger King Gets Competition Bureau Green Light

OTTAWA - Canada's Competition Bureau has approved Burger King's plan to buy Tim Hortons Inc. (TSX:THI).

The federal regulator ruled Tuesday the deal was unlikely to reduce competition "due to, among other things, the existence of a large number of competitors and the low barriers to entry in the fast food industry."

Burger King has offered US$11 billion for the Canadian coffee chain.

The deal still faces a review under the Investment Canada Act and requires approval by Tim Hortons shareholders.

Burger King and Tim Hortons announced the deal in August.

The combination of the two companies would create the world's third-largest quick service restaurant company, with about $23 billion in system sales and more than 18,000 restaurants in 100 countries.

Original Article
Author: CP

Chairs sit empty at Canada’s spy watchdog

OTTAWA - As the government moves to strengthen the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, two of five chairs sit empty on the watchdog agency that oversees the spy service.

Opposition MPs and a prominent national security lawyer say the vacancies leave the Security Intelligence Review Committee weakened at a time of heightened public concern about civil liberties.

Deborah Grey, the committee's interim chairwoman, says she's anxiously awaiting the appointment of two new members to bring the committee up to full strength.

House Speaker won't talk about Hill security after gunman last week shot dead in Centre Block

PARLIAMENT HILL—House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer has clamped down on information about security details for the Parliamentary Precinct after media scrutiny heightened following a barrage of gunfire that erupted in Centre Block last week when a gunman breached three lines in the security perimeter protecting MPs before being shot dead by security and RCMP officers.

Mr. Scheer (Regina-Qu’Appelle, Sask.), in his role as House Speaker and chair of the Commons Board of Internal Economy which ultimately oversees the roughly 300-member Commons security service and other internal House issues, issued a statement Tuesday saying the board has been briefed on security measures that have been implemented since 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed Parliament on Wednesday, Oct. 22 shortly after shooting Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was standing guard at the National War Memorial.

No safe haven: Canada's 'managed migration'

Jose Figueroa, who is courageously defying an immigration warrant to detain him, is a symbol of the arbitrary and exclusionary nature of Canadian immigration and refugee laws.
Jose has been in Canada since 1997 and was approved in principle for permanent residency. Years later, he received a deportation order for his prior membership in a group Canada claims is an organization that engages in acts of "espionage" and "terrorism." 
That organization is the Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which fought against U.S.-sponsored dictatorships in the 1980s and is the current elected government of El Salvador. 

Ottawa shooting: Putting security before liberty

The Ottawa murder of a Canadian soldier last Wednesday brought a sudden outpouring of sentiments as large numbers of people felt his loss.
The senseless tragedy brought crowds out to gather at cenotaphs across Canada to honour the memory of Corporal Nathan Frank Cirillo. In bad times people want to come together, experience solidarity, what it means to be a part of something bigger than a family, or a neighbourhood.
The narrative surrounding the murderer is a murky one. Can one mentally disturbed individual with a rifle be linked to international terrorism? Efforts have been made by the RCMP to suggest the assassination was politically motivated.

Scientists Discover Huge ‘Bathtub Ring’ Of Oil On Sea Floor From BP Spill

Scientists have discovered yet another unforeseen effect of BP’s historic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico: a 1,235-square-mile “bathub ring” of oil on the deep ocean’s floor.
Research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on Monday showed that approximately 10 million gallons of oil settled and coagulated on the floor of the Gulf near the Deepwater Horizon rig, which spilled a total of 172 million gallons of oil into the ocean in April 2010. That oil left a footprint on the ocean floor about two times the size of the city of Houston, Texas, and approximately the size of the state of Rhode Island, the study said.

Why Aren’t Europe and the U.S. Doing More to Support Tunisia’s Transition Into Democracy?

Fears that the historic vote on Sunday in Tunisia might be marred by violence committed by the country’s tiny lunatic fringe were not borne out.  The interim government of Prime Minister Mehdi Jomaa deployed 80,000 police and troops to protect polling stations.

Contrary to the breathless reporting one hears in the mass media, however, Tunisia hasn’t seen very much political violence since its revolution in 2011.  Of Tunisia’s 11 million people (it is a little more populous than Michigan), only about 5,000 are estimated to belong to the far right fundamentalist Salafi tendency, and those who commit political violence are vanishingly small.  The tiny Ansar al-Shariah terrorist organization has mounted a handful of attacks in the rural areas of the country, in remote and rugged regions.  In 2013 two horrific assassinations were committed by the same group, of far-left politicians from the small Popular Front.  The political fall-out from those killings was enormous, as I detailed in my recent book, The New Arabs:  How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East.  But as for people being killed or seriously injured in political violence in all of the past 12 months, the number would be very small.

Is Your Judge for Sale?

THE 30-SECOND TV SPOT is stark and brutal. First it shows the bespectacled face of candidate Louis Butler, then a grainy mug shot of an ex-con. "Louis Butler worked to put criminals on the street," the narrator warns, "like Reuben Lee Mitchell, who raped an 11-year-old girl with learning disabilities." After Mitchell's release from prison, the narrator continues, he raped again. "Can Wisconsin families feel safe with Louis Butler?"
This attack ad wasn't from a bitterly fought congressional race. It was from a 2008 campaign for state Supreme Court justice—a position that until recently was considered above the fray of partisan politics. Butler, the first African American Supreme Court justice in Wisconsin history, was defending his seat against a trial court judge whose campaign tactic recalled the GOP's infamous Willie Horton hit job on Michael Dukakis during the 1988 presidential campaign. Long before ascending to his state's highest court, Butler had been assigned as Reuben Lee Mitchell's public defender—he wasn't the judge in the case, as the nasty ad implied.

Tories' Anti-Terror Bill C-44 Extends CSIS Source Protection, Judicial Warrant Powers

OTTAWA - Long-promised anti-terrorism legislation introduced by the Conservatives would strengthen protection of intelligence sources, but it stops short of shielding an identity crucial to proving someone's innocence.

As expected, the government bill tabled Monday also gives the Canadian Security Intelligence Service more latitude to obtain a court-ordered warrant authorizing security investigations abroad.

"With this bill, it will bring clarity, so that CSIS can work with our allies to share information," Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said shortly after the legislation was introduced.

Steven Blaney: It's Time To Stop 'Under-Reacting' To Terrorism

OTTAWA - The federal public safety minister is warning that it's time to stop "under-reacting" to the threat of terrorism.

Steven Blaney's unusual caution in the House of Commons begins to hint at the political tensions re-emerging in the wake of last week's two deadly attacks on members of the Armed Forces — and on Parliament itself.

The Conservative government introduced legislation Monday that gives Canada's spy agency new powers to monitor and track those suspected of plotting terrorist attacks.

Canada stands to lose plenty in European free trade deal

Not all the news these days is bad. Last month, Prime Minister Harper and European Union officials were in Ottawa to celebrate a much ballyhooed "free trade" deal between Canada and the EU, called the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). No, that's not the good news, nor was the $300,000 we, the people, spent to fly the EU mucky-mucks back home to Brussels on a Canadian government airbus.
Normally these VIPs fly commercial business class for about $9,000 each. Of course 300 grand is non-organic chicken feed to our government, though it might've come in handy in Ebola-stricken West Africa or the teeming refugee camps of the Middle East.

Government won’t pay $30K so woman can chew

Judy Perrin-Royer’s dental surgeon described her as an oral cripple in need of dental implants, but the provincial government won’t pay for the $30,000 procedure.

The 59-year-old Saskatoon woman cried when she heard herself described as an "oral cripple," but she said it’s true.

Her upper jaw has deteriorated to the point that it no longer holds her dentures. They even move around while she talks.

Jason Kenney would be ideal terror point man for Harper

OTTAWA — One of the main things to know about the so-called Protection of Canada from Terrorists bill that was brought forward in the House of Commons on Monday is that it cannot possibly live up to its title.
Another useful thing to note is that its official author, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, was never meant to be at centre stage of a high-stakes political drama.
Initially scheduled for presentation on the very day when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stormed the Hill, the bill was designed to expand the power of CSIS spies.

New spy bill would let Canadian agents operate illegally abroad

OTTAWA—A bill to broaden the powers of CSIS would, for the first time, explicitly authorize Canadian spy agents abroad to break the laws of a foreign country when investigating threats to the security of Canada.
After a tense week that saw Parliament Hill attacked by a gunman, the Conservative government unveiled a promised new bill to boost spy surveillance powers and protection for secret agents. Even before it was introduced, top RCMP and CSIS officials began lobbying for even greater legal “tools.”

Lebanese Troops Fight Street Battles With Militants In Nation's North

TRIPOLI, Lebanon (AP) — Lebanese army tanks pounded Muslim militants' positions in the narrow streets of a poor neighborhood in this northern city Sunday, where fighting has intensified and spread to nearby areas where gunmen killed four soldiers.

Several tanks, armored personnel carriers and Humvees carrying commandos arrived earlier in the day on the edge of the Bab Tabbaneh neighborhood, where clashes were heaviest. Intense gunfire exchanges and sporadic explosions rang out across the neighborhood, the worst fighting Lebanon's second largest city has seen for months.

Poland To Move Thousands Of Troops East

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Poland is planning a major realignment of its military structure because of the conflict in neighboring Ukraine, the country's defense minister said Monday, a move that could shift thousands of troops to its eastern border.

"The geopolitical situation has changed. We have the biggest crisis of security since the Cold War and we must draw conclusions from that," Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak told The Associated Press.

Harper's crocodile tears for fallen soldiers

Harper claims his "thoughts and prayers" are with the family and friends of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Corporal Nathan Cirillo, the two Canadian soldiers tragically killed last week. Then why is he sending troops to kill or be killed in Iraq, while cutting pensions to veterans amidst rising suicides? If they "gave their lives so that we can live in a free, democratic and safe society," why is Harper using their deaths to further restrict our civil liberties and make us less safe?

Highjacking tragedy

Americans saw the tragedy of 9/11 used to wage war on Afghanistan and Iraq -- which helped create ISIS, while fueling military spending, Islamophobia and attacks on civil liberties at home. As the 9/11 Families for Peaceful Tomorrows wrote on the 10th anniversary of that tragedy,
"On this day we ask those who feel compassion for our loss to expand their compassion to include others who continue to experience loss ten years later: innocent families in Afghanistan and Iraq experiencing the loss of their loved ones and displacement from their communities as the result of war and political strife; Muslim-Americans subjected to bias and violence at home; those denied the protections of our Constitution and law, whether in Guantanamo or in our own country; those suffering from job loss and economic dislocation related to the cost of war and rising military budgets; and those who have seen their civil liberties and freedoms exchanged for the false promise of security."
Harper is similarly highjacking tragedy, and not for the first time. As an article in The Guardian explained, "Harper is no stranger to Manichean politics, or to repackaging unpopular security measures in the wake of tragic events. For example, Bill C-13, the so-called cyberbullying act, shamelessly exploited the death of teenager Rehtaeh Parsons and other victims of cyberbullying to reintroduce components of its unpopular online surveillance bill, C-30."
While Harper hid in a cupboard, it was a nurse and former medic who tried to save Cirillo, shot by a homeless man with addiction and mental health issues. When Harper emerged it was not to stop Canada's participation in the war that is fuelling ISIS, reverse the government's deregulation of gun safety (though they did quietly delay a bill so they can pass it later), cancel his planned $36 billion cut to healthcare, or announce investments to end homelessness and support those with mental health and addiction issues. Instead Harper vowed to redouble wars abroad and "national security" at home -- using the tragic deaths of Vincent and Cirillo to multiply tragedy around the world, while eroding civil liberties and continuing austerity at home.

Shell shock

Given the violence unleashed on Afghanistan, it's no surprise that troops following orders would suffer as well. The war and occupation of Afghanistan was sold as peacekeeping, rebuilding and women’s liberation, but as Canadian General Rick Hillier clarified in 2005, "We are the Canadian Forces and our job is to be able to kill people." This has a traumatizing impact on soldiers. Just last month it was revealed that more Canadian soldiers have killed themselves than were killed in Afghanistan, and military families are desperately trying to prevent this statistic from rising.
Corporal Thomas Dixon has tried to kill himself three times since coming back from Afghanistan. His mother is concerned he has undiagnosed PTSD and is not getting the help he needs. As she told the CBC,
"Growing up [in the] cadets, he loved it. Then he went over to Afghanistan. That’s when things turned around for him. He came back, he was very moody, he had a temper -- all the signs you would see of people who have PTSD...He tried to hang himself with a t-shirt. He's crying out for help and nobody’s there. I do not want my son to become a statistic, but that’s what’s happening."
Denying the trauma of war is built into the very terminology of PTSD, as George Carlin explained years ago:
"There's a condition in combat. Most people know about it. It's when a fighting person's nervous system has been stressed to its absolute peak and maximum. Can't take anymore input. The nervous system has either snapped or is about to snap. In the First World War, that condition was called shell shock. Simple, honest, direct language. Two syllables, shell shock. Almost sounds like the guns themselves. That was seventy years ago. Then a whole generation went by and the Second World War came along and very same combat condition was called battle fatigue. Four syllables now. Takes a little longer to say. Doesn't seem to hurt as much. Fatigue is a nicer word than shock. Shell shock! Battle fatigue. Then we had the war in Korea, 1950. Madison avenue was riding high by that time, and the very same combat condition was called operational exhaustion. Hey, we’re up to eight syllables now! And the humanity has been squeezed completely out of the phrase. It's totally sterile now. Operational exhaustion. Sounds like something that might happen to your car. Then of course, came the war in Vietnam, which has only been over for about sixteen or seventeen years, and thanks to the lies and deceits surrounding that war, I guess it's no surprise that the very same condition was called post-traumatic stress disorder. Still eight syllables, but we've added a hyphen! And the pain is completely buried under jargon. Post-traumatic stress disorder. I'll bet you if we'd of still been calling it shell shock, some of those Vietnam veterans might have gotten the attention they needed at the time."
The military continues to bury the pain. Lieutenant Shawna Rogers died of a drug overdose in 2012 and her parents tried to find out why. Her mother, a nurse, compiled documents relating to her daughter’s complaints against the military. The military threatened legal action against her parents if they didn’t turn over the documents and attend the military board of inquiry. As her father, a retired plumber, told the Ottawa Citizen, "The board of inquiry is a kangaroo court and we didn't want any part of it. There's no bigger hell than losing your daughter. We were grieving and they were kicking us while we were down."

The fight to defend pensions

The military is not only kicking but also cutting. While Harper wants to spend $490 billion on the military over the next 20 years, it's clearly not to support veterans. In 2006, veteran Sean Bruyea criticized the pension cuts contained in the New Veterans Charter as a "callous, bureaucratic move to save money on the backs of disabled veterans." The military responded by leaking his medical information in an attempt to discredit him. But this hasn’t stopped veterans from fighting to defend their pensions.
According to Major Mark Campbell, who was wounded in Afghanistan, the New Veterans Charter cuts 40 per cent of veterans' income. As he explained in 2011, "This New Veteran's Charter is a grotesque travesty. It is an abject betrayal by the government of Canada to our new generation of disabled and wounded veterans. What kind of deal is that? The people of Canada should be outraged...Junk the New Veteran's Charter. It's crap."
In 2012 some veterans removed their medals on Remembrance Day, and last year some turned their backs on Conservative MPs during Remembrance Day ceremonies, "just like the Conservatives are turning their backs on veterans," veteran Claude Latulippe explained.
This is part of a pensions fight across the country, which can link jobs and services and build unity between civilian workers and workers in uniform -- a prospect that worries the Tories. This January, veterans joined protests organized by the Public Service Alliance of Canada against the closing of eight Veteran Administration offices that provide services and benefits. Veteran Affairs Minister Julian Fantino claimed "the veterans were used by the union. They were duped." Veterans were furious and demanded Fantino’s resignation, and Second World War veteran Roy Lamore reacted to Fantino's apology by calling it "ridiculous, stupid and the worst thing" he had ever heard. Another veteran, Daniel Drapeau, shredded his Conservative membership card, saying, "They keep hurting us and they won’t stop."

Remember when soldiers said no

A few months ago veterans rallied on Parliament Hill to defend their pensions. As organizer David MacLeod said, "If you can't afford the wounded, you can’t afford the war." This is the real spirit of Remembrance Day, when soldiers tired of being used as cannon fodder refused to fight.
Even the first Christmas during the Second World War saw this spirit, when British and German soldiers declared an unofficial truce and exchanged gifts rather than bullets. The military command cracked down on fraternizing, but the spirit continued. In April 1917 after another bloody offensive, tens of thousands of French troops refused to fight, and the military resorted to mass arrests and death sentences to restore "order."  In October 1917 millions of Russian soldiers joined the revolution for peace, land and bread -- which ended the eastern front. In late October 1918, German sailors refused to fight and triggered a revolution. Soldiers and workers organized democratic councils that swept the country in the first week of November, on the 10th the Kaiser fled the country and on the 11th the armistice was signed. Canada and other imperial powers tried to keep the war alive by sending troops to invade Russia, but Québecois soldiers resisted deployment from Victoria to Vladivostok in December.
Now, as we approach the anniversary of the "war to end all wars," Harper has joined yet another war in Iraq -- a continuation of the 2003 war and occupation that killed a million Iraqis and paved the war for ISIS. The Iraq War also killed thousands of soldiers, which would have included Canadian troops if Harper had his way in 2003. But the peace movement saved Canadian troops from joining the death toll -- by stopping Canada from joining the war -- and continues to support U.S. Iraq War resisters.

A recent Military Times Poll found 70 per cent of active-duty soldiers opposed sending combat troops to Iraq, but the U.S. went ahead -- and already a 19-year old Marine is dead. Harper now wants to use the tragic deaths of last week to justify sending more troops to Iraq. He will turn Remembrance Day on its head -- turning a day of peace and healing created by war resisters into a celebration of war, a justification for eroding civil liberties, and lip service to veterans while he cuts their pensions and ignores their suffering and the suffering of all victims of war. The real legacy of Remembrance Day is to support the wounded -- including both veterans and refugees -- not the war. This means peace not war, solidarity not racism, strengthening not eroding of civil liberties, and redirecting military spending into jobs and pensions, healthcare and education, and environmental justice.

Original Article