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.]

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Indiana Shut Down Its Rural Planned Parenthood Clinics And Got An HIV Outbreak

Scott County, Indiana, the center of an exploding HIV outbreak, has been without an HIV testing center since early 2013, when the sole provider -- a Planned Parenthood clinic -- was forced to close its doors. The clinic did not offer abortion services.

The Scott County clinic and four other Planned Parenthood facilities in the state, all of which provided HIV testing and information, have shuttered since 2011, in large part due to funding cuts to the state's public health infrastructure. Those cuts came amid a national and local political campaign to demonize the health care provider. Now, the state is scrambling to erect pop-up clinics to combat an unprecedented HIV epidemic caused by intravenous drug use.

Elizabeth Warren: Give Hillary Clinton A Chance

Elizabeth Warren wants America to hear Hillary Clinton out.

Appearing on NBC’s “Today” on Tuesday to promote her new book, the Massachusetts senator said that the former Secretary of State deserves an opportunity to demonstrate how she plans to help the middle class if she decides to run for president.

“I think we need to give her a chance to decide if she’s going to run and to lay out what she wants to run on,” Warren said. “I think that’s her opportunity to do that.”

White House Lifts Hold On Weapon Sales To Egypt Despite Lack Of Democratic Progress

WASHINGTON -- On Tuesday, President Barack Obama phoned Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi with good news: The White House promised to lift a hold on the transfer of four large-scale weapons systems that had been stalled since October 2013.

“In the interest of U.S. national security, President Obama has directed the release of 12 F-16 aircraft, 20 Harpoon missiles, and up to 125 M1A1 Abrams tank kits that have been held from delivery,” National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement Tuesday.

Canadian Corporate Profit Margins At 27-Year High, Thanks To Low Loonie, Soft Labour Costs

TORONTO - CIBC World Markets says corporate profit margins hit a 27-year high in the fourth quarter and are likely to remain strong despite the recent softening in the economy due to the oil price shock.

According to a new study released Tuesday, the average profit margin of all non-financial corporations rose to 8.2 per cent of sales in the fourth quarter of 2014.

Purvi Patel sentenced to 20 years in prison for her miscarriage

A 33-year-old Indiana woman who suffered a miscarriage has been sentenced to 20 years in prison for feticide -- causing the death of a fetus -- and child neglect.

Purvi Patel was arrested in 2013 after it was discovered that at 24 weeks pregnant, she prematurely gave birth at home and discarded the thought-to-be stillborn fetus in a dumpster. Patel then headed to the hospital to treat her heavy bleeding, where a doctor discovered an umbilical cord. The police were immediately called and questioned Patel on the spot.

Why bombing Syria breaks the law

There are a number of reasons why Canada’s military mission in Iraq should be extended and there seems to be wide public support for doing so. However, there is one more powerful reason why that extension should not involve the bombing of Islamic State targets in Syria.

The reason is that by doing so Canada is breaking international law and is in violation of the United Nations Charter. Cynics may react to this by saying, “So what?” They may argue that our responsibility to stop the horrors committed by this terrorist group overrides our obligations to follow the rule of law. The cynics would be wrong.

‘This ain’t Canada right now’: G20 police violated Charter rights, court rules

In a decision being hailed as a victory for civil liberties, the Court of Appeal has ruled that a group of G20 demonstrators who were prevented from approaching the security fence unless they submitted to a search had their Charter rights violated.

“It’s a victory for peaceful demonstrators,” said Kiel Ardal, one of the lawyers who argued the case. “We hope that police change their behaviour because of this ruling.”

The altercation between protester Paul Figueiras and a group of York Region police on June 27, 2010, gained notoriety thanks to a video posted to YouTube in which Sgt. Mark Charlebois says: “This ain’t Canada right now … There is no civil rights here in this area.”

Cindy Gladue Case: Not Guilty Verdict Ignites Outrage, Protests

The circumstances of Cindy Gladue's last hours were horrific. The mother of two bled to death in a motel bathtub, suffering from an 11-centimetre vaginal wound.

And the trial of the man accused of killing her was no less appalling, say aboriginal activists.

Earlier this month, an Edmonton jury found Ontario trucker Bradley Barton not guilty of first-degree murder in the 2011 death of Gladue, a First Nations woman.

Who gets the biggest share of the benefits from Tory ‘family tax cut?’

OTTAWA - Just over half of the money the federal government is set to spend on child care will go to parents of teenagers or families who do not pay to put their kids in daycare, says a new report by the parliamentary budget officer.

Jean-Denis Frechette's latest report comes days after the Conservatives introduced legislation to enact its so-called "family tax cut" — a multibillion-dollar suite of measures that includes the controversial income-splitting plan.

This is your prime minister on drugs

Stephen Harper's policies on drugs are embarrassingly backwards. In Canada right now, millions of people are paying out of pocket for medically necessary prescriptions and supplies, or, becoming ill when they can no longer afford to. At the same time, proven life-saving initiatives like Insite, Vancouver's safe-injection site for drug users, are being threatened by new legislation. Canadian communities need a national pharmacare program but instead, on March 23 the Harper government passed the second reading of Bill C-2, the "Respect for Communities Act," to throw up roadblocks in the creation of safe-injection sites. Once again, prejudice and fear-mongering trump evidence and compassion.

Chris Christie Embraces 20-Week Abortion Ban

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Monday joined other potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates in endorsing a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

“I am proud to be a pro-life Republican," Christie said in a statement to the anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List, which solicited endorsements of the legislation from Republicans. "I believe that every life is an individual gift from God, and that no life is disposable."

Arizona Governor Signs Controversial Abortion Bill Into Law

PHOENIX, March 30 (Reuters) - Arizona's Republican governor, Doug Ducey, said on Monday he has signed into law a controversial measure blocking women from buying insurance that includes abortion coverage through the federal healthcare exchange.

The fiercely debated bill also requires doctors to tell women they could possibly reverse the effects of a drug-induced abortion, a claim that critics have called "junk science."

The measure cleared the Republican-controlled state legislature last week, largely along party lines.

"The American people overwhelmingly oppose taxpayer funding of abortions, and it's no different in Arizona, where we have long-standing policy against subsidizing them with public dollars," Ducey said in a statement after signing the measure on Monday. "This legislation provides clarity to state law." (Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix, Arizona; Writing by Eric M. Johnson; Editing by Eric Beech)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

"Religious Freedom" Laws Don't Legalize LGBT Discrimination. That's Already Legal in Most of America.

Indiana Governor Mike Pence—his entire state, really—has been hammered in the national press since last week's passage of a "religious freedom" bill. This New York Times headline says it all: "Indiana Law Denounced as Invitation to Discriminate Against Gays." ABC News' George Stephanopoulos took that angle in an interview with Pence on Sunday, asking repeatedly for a one-word answer as to whether the new law makes it legal for businesses to refuse service to gay couples.

Pence dodged, insisting that the media misunderstood the law's purpose. But had he been more honest, Pence would have said: George, Indiana doesn't need a new law to permit businesses from discriminating against gay customers. It's perfectly legal to do that right now.

Information-Sharing Bill Would Extend NSA’s Reach, Opponents Argue

Dozens of organizations and individuals, including some of the nation’s leading security experts, have come together to urge lawmakers to oppose the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act, a bill whose backers say would “improve cybersecurity in the United States through enhanced sharing of information about cybersecurity threats, and for other purposes.”

Some of the bill’s opponents—including the American Civil Liberties Union, the Free Press Action Fund, the New America Foundation and 45 others—sent a letter this month to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, arguing that, despite the bill’s name, CISA would do little to strengthen cybersecurity and would actually expand unnecessary surveillance on Americans.

GOP Presidential Hopefuls Rise To Defend Indiana Law That Many See As Anti-Gay

WASHINGTON -- Republican presidential hopefuls are lining up in defense of Indiana’s controversial “religious freedom” law, which critics warn will open the door to legal discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals by businesses in the state.

“I think Gov. [Mike] Pence has done the right thing,” former Florida governor and likely 2016 contender Jeb Bush said in a Monday interview. “I think once the facts are established, people aren’t going to see this as discriminatory at all.”

As a reason why such laws are necessary, Bush pointed to the case of a Washington state florist who was fined for refusing to provide flowers for a same-sex wedding.

Oceans in Crisis: One Woman Will Cross the Pacific to Raise Awareness

Sonya Baumstein has rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, kayaked from Seattle to Juneau, and paddled across the Bering Strait.

But now she is in final preparations to become, at 29 years old, the first woman to row across the Pacific Ocean. From Choshi, Japan, to San Francisco, her route will carry her over 5,700 nautical miles of what is arguably the most challenging open ocean crossing in the world, one that will include winds in excess of 50 knots, over 40-foot-high seas, and the threat of freighters and other large vessels.

Corporation Literally Served Inmates Trash

Two weeks ago Progress Michigan uncovered emails revealing that a prison food provider served cakes nibbled on by rats to inmates. They’ve now discovered that employees from this same food vendor, Aramark, served inmates at another facility an equally unsavory meal: garbage.
In an email exchange between the company’s general manager, Sigfried Linder, and the state’s Department of Corrections, Linder admitted that prisoners at Saginaw Correctional Facility were served food that was previously thrown in the trash. “Mr. Chisolm discarded the left-overs from the line before the last half unit was in the chow hall. He then realized that there were more inmates to serve so he rinsed them off, reheated them in the oven and instructed the inmates to serve them,” read one email. “They refused, so he and Miss Gibson proceeded to serve them to the remaining inmates.”

If You Want To Know The Problem With Indiana’s ‘Religious Freedom’ Law, Just Ask George W. Bush

Just one day after Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a law that’s widely expected to give anti-gay businesses a license to discriminate, two of the state’s top Republicans are already backing away from the law. At a joint press conference held by Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long (R) and House Speaker Brian Bosma (R), both men said that they will “encourage our colleagues to adopt a clarifying measure of some sort to remove” the impression that the bill authorizes discrimination. It remains to be seen what, exactly, this “clarifying measure” will say, and if it will actually remove the bill’s protections for anti-gay business owners.

Vancouver Police Officer Smashes Car Window, Drags Driver Out

A YouTube video showing a Vancouver police sergeant smashing a driver's window is turning a spotlight on how much force police officers should be allowed to use.

The motorist, who uses the name Bodhi Sattva on YouTube, apparently recorded the incident in November, and uploaded it this week.

The driver opens his window slightly and asks why he's been stopped. When the officer refuses to answer, and the driver declines to get out, the exchange gets more heated.

Monday, March 30, 2015

After a story is published, a minimum wage worker loses her job

Shanna Tippen was another hourly worker at the bottom of the nation’s economy, looking forward to a 25-cent bump in the Arkansas minimum wage that would make it easier for her to buy diapers for her grandson. When I wrote about her in The Post last month, she said the minimum wage hike would bring her a bit of financial relief, but it wouldn’t lift her above the poverty line.

She called me the other day to say she didn’t get to enjoy the 25-cent hike for long. After the story came out, she says she was fired from her job for talking to the Post.

The Big Lie The Media Tells About Indiana’s New ‘Religious Freedom’ Law

On Friday, the Washington Post published an article titled “19 states that have ‘religious freedom’ laws like Indiana’s that no one is boycotting.” The article snarks about organizations like the NCAA that have protested Indiana’s law, noting “the NCAA didn’t say it was concerned over how athletes and employees would be affected by Kentucky’s RFRA when games were played there last week.” The piece concludes “Indiana might be treated as if it’s the only state with a bill like this, but it’s not.” The piece has been shared over 75,000 times on Facebook.

BMO: Provinces Will Take Back Three-Quarters Of Tories' Tax Cuts

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is undoubtedly hoping that this year’s round of tax cuts and expanded family benefits will make Canadians feel richer as the country heads towards a fall election, but a new report from the Bank of Montreal suggests that may not pan out as hoped.

The Harper government’s tax cuts and expanded family benefits will put some $4.5 billion in Canadians’ pockets this year, but provincial austerity budgets will eat up about three-quarters of that, BMO economist Robert Kavcic estimates.

Harper is finally getting his wish — a war

Back in the spring of 2003, in the waning days of his prime ministry, Jean Chrétien announced the decision for which he will be long remembered. Canada, he told a tumultuous House of Commons, would be not joining the U.S.-led "coalition of the willing" in its war against Iraq.

There are times in politics when a decision not to take a certain step is tougher, yet wiser, than a decision to take that step. In March 2003, Chrétien was under pressure both from U.S. president George W. Bush and from Stephen Harper, the newly minted leader of the opposition in Ottawa, to commit Canadian forces to the invasion of Iraq. If Chrétien had succumbed to their pressure, Canada would have been locked into an unwinnable war that in the end dragged on for eight years, claiming the lives of 4,491 U.S. military personnel and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi troops and civilians.

'Historic' agreement reached in York University strike

Graduate student workers at York University have reached a tentative agreement with their employer and the union is hailing the deal as a "historic victory."
The 3,700 members of CUPE Local 3903 have been on strike since March 3. Over the course of the strike, the membershipvoted down previous offersproposed by the administration. Their concerns centred around two main issues: (1) they wanted graduate student funding levels indexed to tuition for all current and future students so that funding levels would increase proportionally with the cost of tuition, and (2) they wanted recognition of LGBTQ as an employment equity category.

Mysterious conservative group finds way around political spending limits

The Conservative Party of Canada’s former executive director has set up what could be a game-changing new organization to raise money and promote the benefits of “a strong, stable Conservative government” while bypassing the legal limits on fundraising faced by political parties, iPolitics has learned.

Conservative Voice is actively seeking donations from companies to help it counter Liberal and NDP viewpoints it says are being funded by institutions “on the left of the political spectrum.”

C-51 hearings end with suggestion government erred in drafting bill

Like university students cramming for an exam, Thursday night the parliamentary public security committee (SECU) finished the last of nine hearings (over only six days) into the government's anti-terrorism bill (C-51). It's now up to the committee to perform a clause-by-clause review of the omnibus legislation and draft recommendations to the House, including possible amendments, before third reading, which is expected to happen quickly. The NDP and the Liberals have announced the amendments they will be seeking.

Harper and his ideologue minions reason enough to fear C-51

As Stephen Harper transforms Canada into a nation of suspects and self-censors while holding a match to the Charter of Rights, the Conservative party robots are blowing their circuits coming up with justifications for Bill C-51.

Their excuses have gone from the lame to the ludicrous. Justice Minister Peter MacKay proclaimed that our allies are doing it, so we are too. (Pssst, Petey, did you hear that Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, recently advocated the beheading of disloyal Arab Israelis? Israel is our ally, right? Thoughts? Should we be grinding the blade for Pat Martin?)

Worried about C-51? You’re probably a terrorist.

Are you now, or have you ever been, a terrorist?

That, in one form or another, is the question being asked over and over by Conservative MPs of expert witnesses called before the Commons standing committee reviewing Bill C-51, the so-called anti-terrorism law.

I spoke before the committee last week. I pointed to the danger in the bill’s much-expanded definition of national security and in its false conflation of peaceful protest with terrorism. I was expecting to be called on to defend our arguments, to cite evidence on how the bill’s sweeping new powers could be used against peaceful advocates for action on climate change.

Is Harper a Cause or Symptom of Our Ailing Democracy?

Since coming to power, the administration of Stephen Harper has made headlines for undermining government opennesses and accountability, introducing divisive if not outright unpopular laws, and ignoring or intimidating critics, including the fourth estate.

On such foundations dictatorships are built, leading to concerns about the state of our democracy. But how much of that foundation was actually laid by Harper, and how much was there before he even became prime minister?

Two recent books on the Conservative leader appear to have somewhat different answers, with our country's future dependent upon how citizens respond to that question.

White House to Netanyahu: Your move

A dozen Jewish House Democrats laid it out for deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes during a meeting in the Longworth House Office Building last week: Enough. They’re just as upset about what Benjamin Netanyahu said ruling out a two-state solution, but President Barack Obama didn’t need to keep reminding them and everyone else.

Obama and his aides, they said, had to stop acting as if the Israeli prime minister’s comments are the only thing holding up a peace process that’s been abandoned for a year while not expressing a word of disappointment about Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas — and openly toying with allowing the Palestinians their provocative recognition bid at the United Nations. The swipes at Netanyahu felt vindictive, and gratuitous.

Iran Backs Away From Key Detail in Nuclear Deal

LAUSANNE, Switzerland — With a negotiating deadline just two days away, Iranian officials on Sunday backed away from a critical element of a proposed nuclear agreement, saying they are no longer willing to ship their atomic fuel out of the country.

For months, Iran tentatively agreed that it would send a large portion of its stockpile of uranium to Russia, where it would not be accessible for use in any future weapons program. But on Sunday Iran’s deputy foreign minister made a surprise comment to Iranian reporters, ruling out an agreement that involved giving up a stockpile that Iran has spent years and billions of dollars to amass.

Republicans Are Attacking Climate Change Science by Comparing It to Religion

Republicans struggle to find a convincing reason not to take action on climate change, so they tend to recycle excuses. In the 2014 election, one line in particular caught on—the two top Republican congressional leaders, Mitch McConnell and John Boehner, insisted they were not qualified to discuss climate change science because they were not scientists. Since then, countless high-profile figures have called out this line, including President Barack Obama and Stephen Colbert.

But “I’m not a scientist” has fallen from favor in the GOP, perhaps because it polls terribly. Another very old meme is resurfacing to take its place.

Governor Becomes Frustrated When Asked If ‘Religious Liberty’ Law Will Be Used To Discriminate

Gov. Mike Pence (R-IN) defended a “religious liberty” law he signed on Sunday, saying that tolerance was a “two-way street” and the law was about protecting religious people from government overreach.
Pence had said he was going to appear on the Sunday news show to “clarify the intent” of the law. Instead, he refused repeatedly to say if the law would greenlight discrimination against people based on their sexual orientation in the state.

Abbott's Removal Reveals Chaos with Treaty Process

It's odd the government's last-minute axing of George Abbott as its lead representative on the B.C. Treaty Commission was so quickly cast as a tale of political revenge.

Sure, Abbott, a former Liberal aboriginal affairs minister and Christy Clark leadership rival, was treated shabbily. Aboriginal Affairs Minister John Rustad recruited him six months ago. Abbott's selection had been vetted with the federal government and First Nations Summit, partners in the treaty process, and he was slated to be chief commissioner.

National Firearms Association ignoring questions about C-51, members complain

The National Firearms Association is deleting questions posted to its Facebook page about why it pulled out of a committee looking at the government's proposed anti-terrorism legislation, and some members are complaining.

On Monday a lawyer for the gun owners' group had been scheduled to appear on a panel regarding concerns about Bill C-51.

Legal experts have raised a number of concerns about the bill's scope, the lack of oversight, and possible threats to privacy regarding clauses to allow information-sharing between government departments.

Is Canada's ISIS mission ready for Syria's moral maze?

In all of Canada's long military history, we've likely never known less about a territory we are about to attack than the Syria we're going bomb from on high.

We're not alone in that ignorance as virtually no one today can figure out the full scale of the explosive, antagonist-rich tinderbox and moral disaster zone that is present day Syria.

Certainly not the U.S., nor the few Arab countries that will be our sole allies in bombing the ISIS operations there.

French Right-Wing Wins Key Local Vote

PARIS (AP) — Former President Nicolas Sarkozy blasted the "lies, denial and impotence" of France's governing Socialists after estimates showed his conservative party and their allies chalked up wins across France in Sunday's local elections that saw the left lose nearly half of its councils. The far-right National Front edged forward in its bid to create an army of grassroots support, but fell short of its dream to capture its first council.

Socialist Prime Minister Manuel Valls conceded that the mainstream right won the voting.

"It is incontestable," Valls said, bemoaning divisions within the left that he said proved costly.

As China Rises, What Game Is President Xi Jinping Playing?

During a late-March conference concerned with developing a strategic response to China’s continued rise to global economic power, Western foreign policy and security experts sought to define the international statecraft being practiced by the country’s leadership.

The conference, held by the Carnegie Endowment, was attended by foreign affairs commentator for The Guardian Natalie Nougayrede.

Arab Leaders Announce Unified Force To Counter Security Threats

SHARM EL-SHEIK, Egypt, March 29 (Reuters) - Arab leaders at a summit in Egypt announced the formation of a unified military force to counter growing security threats from Yemen to Libya, and as regional heavyweights Saudi Arabia and Iran engage in sectarian proxy wars.

Working out the mechanism and logistics of the unified force, an idea floated by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, could take months.

Naomie Trudeau-Tremblay, Quebec Protester Shot With Tear Gas, Mocked On Facebook

First, Naomie Trudeau-Tremblay took part of a tear gas canister to the face.

Then, the 18-year-old Quebec student was aggressively mocked online.

Trudeau-Tremblay was taking part in an anti-austerity demonstration in Quebec City on Thursday when video captured by HuffPost Quebec showed her being hit in the face from close range.

Mike Pence Dodges Questions On Anti-Gay Discrimination In Indiana

WASHINGTON -- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) refused to say on Sunday whether it should be illegal under state law to discriminate against gays and lesbians.

Pence appeared on ABC's "This Week" to defend his decision to sign a controversialpiece of legislation intended to protect religious liberties that critics say will enable discrimination in the state. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act would allow individuals and corporations to cite religious beliefs in private litigation. Pence's decision to sign the bill into law has sparked backlash against the state.

Moneyballing Justice: "Evidence-Based" Criminal Reforms Ignore Real Evidence

Proponents of the new wave of "criminal justice reform" claim that their efforts are nonpartisan, non-ideological and "evidence-based."

This "evidence-based" frame asserts that mass incarceration and "overcriminalization" will be remedied by a handful of sentencing reforms affecting "low-level" offenders. An essential element of such reform is the widespread use of "evidence-based risk-assessment" instruments to purportedly help authorities objectively determine who is "dangerous" - and therefore must remain in prison - and who is not.

Egypt's president backs united Arab force to tackle regional security threats

Egypt’s president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, has backed calls to create a unified Arab force to confront regional security threats, and said intervention in Yemen was the “inevitable” result of meddling by a foreign power.

Speaking at an Arab League summit, he said that the military campaign against Shia Houthi militias in Yemen, which has been led by Saudi Arabia, aimed to “preserve Yemen’s unity and the peace of its territories”.

Tories are destroying society that ‘we created’: war veteran

World War II veteran Harry Leslie Smith, 92, said his time is coming to an end – but first he has a message – elect a progressive government.

Smith told his story, by video, to a captivated crowd at Broadbent’s progress summit in Ottawa Saturday afternoon. He said he grew up impoverished in England and came to Canada after fighting in World War II.

Smith said his generation built a strong social safety network, created universal healthcare, public pensions, built affordable housing and demanded that education was everyone’s rights, but those things are disappearing under Harper’s watch.

How the Ministry of Environment Vetoed Our Interview Request

Documents obtained by DeSmog Canada reveal that Canada's Ministry of Environment vetoed an interview request on toxins in fur-bearing animals in the oilsands, even though the federal scientist was "media trained and interested in doing the interview."

The Environment Canada scientist in question, Philippe Thomas, had asked members of the Alberta Trappers Association to send him samples of fur-bearing animals caught across Alberta in 2012. Thomas needed a broad range of samples to gain deeper insight into the contaminant load in animals living near the oilsands.

Canadian democracy has declined under PM Harper, say Bourrie, Harris

Democracy has suffered under Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government, say two prominent political authors who compared the effect of the Conservative regime over the past nine years to a “fibrous tumour.”

The criticism came at a Broadbent Institute Progress Summit panel discussion headlined “The Great Unravelling: Why it Matters How Canada has become Less Democratic.”

Mark Bourrie, author of Kill the Messengers, and Michael Harris, author of Party of One, focused on aspects of Mr. Harper’s (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) governing style that they exposed in their research and writing—the centralization of power in the PMO, Mr. Harper’s extreme-discipline manner of exercising power, the way Mr. Harper has held sway over his MPs as well as the public service and the iron grip he has put on government information and its dissemination.

Even with Amendments, C-51 Should Worry Activists

A storm of criticism has engulfed the Harper government's Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act.

One of the leading points of contention is whether peaceful protesters will be caught up in the wide anti-terrorist net cast by the new legislation.

Opponents point to the expansive definition of national security threats that would now include ''interference'' with ''critical infrastructure'' or with ''the economic or financial stability of Canada.'' They suggest this could include, for example, First Nations and environmental protests against pipeline megaprojects. It's no surprise these groups feel anxious. Among other things, C-51 provides for increased information sharing, an expanded no-fly list, and new CSIS powers, including secret judicial warrants that permit agents to use any means -- even break the law -- to reduce threats.


Prime Minister Stephen Harper has made it clear that his government isn't just going to extend the current military mission in Iraq. Now he wants to carry the fight against ISIS into Syria as well.

"Let me just say the current authorization laid open the possibility of going to Syria," Harper told reporters last week, before tabling a motion in the House of Commons Tuesday, March 24.

As with most issues surrounding the commitment of troops to Iraq, Harper's bizarre claim went unchallenged. Canada's only "current authorization" to employ deadly force in the region is at the invitation of the Iraqi government and the U.S., which last spring called upon allied nations to help them shoulder the burden of bombing ISIS targets, and Canada agreed to participate.

Teen Was Kept In Solitary Confinement For 143 Days Before Even Facing Trial

A federal review conducted by the U.S. Department of Justice found that Baltimore City Detention Center was illegally putting teens in psychologically damaging solitary confinement as they awaited trial for adult charges. One detainee was kept in solitary confinement for 143 days.
The report, released on Friday, found that in addition to a detainee identified as RC who was detained for 143 days, another detainee, EM, spent 53 of the 105 days spent in detention in solitary. Furthermore, the rules at the facility mandated that violators must spend 7 to 14 days for a first offense and must wait around 80 days for a disciplinary review.

Barrick Gold hires John Baird, Newt Gingrich

Barrick Gold Corp. has hired former foreign affairs minister John Baird and former top U.S. lawmaker Newt Gingrich, the company said in regulatory filings.

Mr. Baird is working on Barrick's international advisory board along with Mr. Gingrich, the former speaker of the House of Representatives. No compensation details were disclosed in the filings.

The company also gave its chairman John Thornton a pay raise as the world’s biggest gold producer repositions itself to deal with the severe slump in bullion prices.

Upset By Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Banks Debate Halting Some Campaign Donations

NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Big Wall Street banks are so upset with U.S. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren's call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said.

Representatives from Citigroup, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America, have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party's tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.

French voters veer right, far-right amid sea of political corruption

Spring in Paris — the crocuses are in bloom, and the investigations into political corruption are in full flower.

Forget Italy and Silvio Berlusconi, that's yesterday's corruption news. French politicians now have pride of place.

Leading the way is a whole party — the far-right National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, which just eclipsed the French Socialist Party in local voting and is heading into run-off elections with the centre-right on Sunday.