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, February 26, 2015

Bill C-51 could be the biggest bait and switch Canada has ever seen: opinion

In the spring of 2011 the Government of Canada was renamed the Harper Government. While to some it may seem a relatively minor issue of semantics, in retrospect it has come to signify something much greater: the dismantling of the Canada you grew up in, and its replacement with a strange and frightening new Canada birthed behind the closed doors of the Prime Minister’s Office. While Canadians have complained about the unchecked power of majority governments in the past, this one feels like a landslide that just keeps coming.

George W. Bush once famously intoned that “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” Now with the proposal of Bill C-51 the Harper Government has essentially said the same thing, only with a twist. You’re either with the Harper Government and the oil companies, or you’re with the terrorists. Disagreeing is treasonous.

Palast to Syriza: Don't Lie, It's Impossible to End Austerity Within the Eurozone

Renowned investigative journalist and bestselling author Greg Palast explains why he believes Syriza cannot deliver on its economic platform while keeping Greece within the eurozone and why the euro is harmful for the Greek economy.

This interview was conducted in late January 2015 and remains relevant because it reflects Greg Palast's views regarding Syriza's positions, how Syriza should respond to the demands of the troika and what other options might exist for Greece, including a possible "Grexit."
Renowned investigative journalist and bestselling author Greg Palast explains why he believes Syriza cannot deliver on its economic platform while keeping Greece within the eurozone and why the euro is harmful for the Greek economy. He also provides insights regarding the role of Goldman Sachs in perpetuating the Greek economic crisis, and on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Texas Bill Bans Sustainability Program, Based On A Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory

Two Texas lawmakers have proposed a pair of bills that would prevent the state from funding programs which attempt to implement the ideas of Agenda 21, a non-binding and voluntary United Nations plan for sustainable development signed by the United States and 178 other governments in 1992.
According to the Texas Tribune, the bills proposed by Republican state lawmakers Rep. Molly White and Sen. Bob Hall would prohibit funds from states, counties, and public universities from going to organizations “accredited by the United Nations to implement a policy that originated in the Agenda 21 plan.” The Agenda 21 plan — signed by President George H. W. Bush — includes recommendations to conserve public lands, rein in air pollution, build more sustainable cities, combat poverty, and strengthen the voices of women, indigenous groups, and farmers.

Hundreds of expert recommendations on violence against Indigenous women and girls go unimplemented

An alarming study released today shows that governments in Canada have repeatedly ignored expert recommendations to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Researchers with the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women reviewed 58 reports dealing with aspects of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, including government studies, reports by international human rights bodies, and published research of Indigenous women's organizations. The reports cover a period of two decades. Shockingly, researchers found that only a few of more than 700 recommendations in these reports have ever been fully implemented.
"How many Indigenous women and girls would have been found or would still be alive if governments had acted on more of these recommendations?" asked Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. "This is yet another piece of irrefutable evidence that governments in Canada have breached their fundamental moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety of all women, without discrimination."

Ending discrimination against First Nations children in Canada

In February 2007, a human rights complaint was filed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (the "Caring Society") and the Assembly of First Nations ("AFN") against the Government of Canada, alleging that the government discriminated against First Nations children by providing inequitable child welfare services to children living on-reserve as compared to children living off-reserve (First Nations Child).
In particular, the First Nations Child complaint alleges that the federal government's program underfunds children living on-reserve, such that children do not receive needed care and support that would permit them to continue to live at home and, as a result, First Nations children are disproportionately removed from their families in comparison to non‑First Nations children. The impact of the child welfare system on First Nations communities has been compared to the legacy created by the residential school system.

Combatting ISIS: The case for universal service

Why do young Canadians join ISIS, and what can be done to prevent this? 
Bill C-51 -- the Harper government's anti-terrorism act -- offers one approach: make it a crime to promote or advocate "terrorism." But a slippery slope leads from criminalizing extremist ideas to criminalizing dissent. Four former Canadian prime ministers, in a statement critical of Bill C-51, point out that "serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security."  

Harper's new legislation could backfire. Characterizing various ideas (including religious extremism) as terrorism might enhance, rather than reduce, the supply of ISIS recruits.

Vince Li and the politics of fear

Manitoba's senior member of Parliament, Shelly Glover, uttered four sentences on the Vince Li case Tuesday. The thoughts in each sentence were emotional, irrelevant and factually incorrect. Ms. Glover's comments merely inflamed the stigma and misunderstanding associated with mental illness and schizophrenia in particular.

Mr. Li is not a convicted criminal, and there is no legal basis for treating him as such, much less ensuring "that penalties match the severity of the crime."

Her words also reflect, however, the sincere views of many Canadians who can't accept that Mr. Li could eventually be free to walk the streets of Winnipeg, less than seven years after he beheaded a man on a Greyhound bus while in the grip of a severe schizophrenic episode, a previously undiagnosed condition.

The Brief Life and Private Death of Alexandria Hill

THE SUN WAS BEATING down on Rockdale, Texas, when Donna Winkler arrived at her sister's ranch-style, clapboard house on the afternoon of July 29, 2013. Winkler was concerned about Sherill. At the age of 54, she had lost her job as a school bus driver after falling and injuring her wrist. Her husband, Clemon Small, a former crack addict, only worked a few days a week as a karaoke DJ. Recently, the Smalls had moved from nearby Austin to Rockdale, population 5,400, to cut costs.

Winkler knew her sister helped support herself by fostering children for Texas Mentor, a private agency that finds homes for children who have been removed from their parents' custody. She had taken in an infant and a two-year-old girl named Alexandria Hill. Texas Mentor paid the Smalls $44.30 a day to care for both kids. The company earned $34.74 daily on top of that to monitor the Smalls. Winkler thought Sherill was in it for the money.

Who's Behind the Secretive Group Bashing Elizabeth Warren's Favorite Agency?

Based off its name alone, the US Consumer Coalition—which bills itself as a "grassroots organization" that exists to "build bridges, ensure public awareness and mobilize the powerful voices of consumers and business owners to protect our freedom of choice"—sounds like the sort of outfit you'd expect to find sticking up for the little guy.

Yet last month, Brian Wise, one of the group's founders, penned an op-ed in the Hill attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the consumer protection agency that came into existence in 2011 thanks to Elizabeth Warren. The CFPB crafts financial rules to protect ordinary consumers—making mortgage applications simple, preventing banks from hiding fees and charges, and cracking down on payday lenders. But since the US Consumer Coalition launched early last year, it has been on a mission to bring down the bureau—which it has called "America's most dangerous federal agency"—and other financial regulators.

Bill C-51 threatens to sacrifice liberty for security

Four former Canadian prime ministers (including a Conservative) and five former Supreme Court justices have warned Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that protecting the security of Canadians and their most important freedoms is not a zero sum game.

In their own words criticizing his anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, they warn: “Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security.”

Canada’s tantrum in the Middle East

Many Canadians would be surprised to learn the extent to which Canada has become an enemy of moderation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so let’s not allow the latest petty incident to go unremarked: apparent payback to a Palestinian NGO because its founder criticized John Baird.

For more than twenty years, Hanan Ashrawi, an ethnic Christian and a moderate, has been a prominent Palestinian leader. In 2006 she was elected to the Palestinian parliament as a member of the Third Way, an almost laughably small party which has tried to provide a democratic, centrist alternative to the corruption of Fateh and the violent Islamism of Hamas — the two dominant Palestinian political factions.

In the Conservative war on terror, the first casualty is Parliament

Fresh from limiting the parliamentary debate on its proposed anti-terror law, the government is now resisting opposition calls for an extensive review of Bill C-51 by the Commons committee on public safety and national security.

"This bill is strongly supported by Canadians," Stephen Harper argued this week during Question Period, "and I encourage the committee to study it as quickly as possible in order to adopt these measures to help Canadian security during the life of this Parliament."

Syriza's First 'Defeat' -- What Does It Mean?

What has been deployed over the last few of weeks, since the new elected Greek government unleashed its efforts to convince some of its European partners to align with it against the austerity oriented and Germany driven policies in Europe, is a game of power directly connected with the question of who finally has the upper hand in dictating the decisions in the Union. I draw the conclusion that the fundamental reason that Europeans -- and particularly Germans -- were irritated by the sentimentally and ideologically unyielding negotiating strategy of the left wing Syriza government in Greece was not actually its logical purpose to alter the harmful parameters of the imposing fiscal policies in the country. It was the fact that the Greek officials' attitude towards Europeans in the negotiations in the Eurogroup meetings in Brussels was interpreted by Germans and others as a questioning of their hegemony in a Union that since 2010 has been transformed from a political to a corporate one within which the superiority of creditors over lenders is not posed under any kind of doubt. One month was enough time for Europe to roll the new leftist government in Greece back into the harsh European reality by destroying very quickly the illusions that Syriza had created as part of its electoral campaign, which rested on the belief that it could easily become the change that the Union needed towards a more socially prudent economic policy. Greece started participating in that "chicken game" by having high expectations for its capability to drag Europeans and Germans to its position, but also by being determined not to push things to a point that could not be rectifiable afterwards, like a potential Grexit.

Ted Cruz Would Normally Probably Criticize What Ted Cruz Just Did In The DHS Fight

WASHINGTON -- For weeks, conservatives have been pushing their Republican colleagues to use any means necessary to leverage Department of Homeland Security funding to kill President Barack Obama's executive actions on immigration.

They've called for the Senate to change its rules to pass a bill that Democrats oppose, and have said lawmakers should be willing to allow a DHS shutdown to make Obama change his policies. They railed against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) for making a deal with Democrats on Wednesday to fund DHS without measures stopping Obama's immigration policies.

Wisconsin Lawmakers Pass Right-To-Work Bill As Thousands Protest

MADISON, Wis. -- Spelling more trouble for organized labor in the U.S., Republican legislators in the Wisconsin state Senate approved a right-to-work bill here on Wednesday, sending the measure to a GOP-controlled Assembly where it's also expected to pass. Republican leaders chose to fast-track the bill in what's known as an extraordinary legislative session, allowing for less debate than usual.

Debate over the bill drew an estimated 2,000 protesters to the state Capitol on both Tuesday and Wednesday, reminiscent of the passionate labor demonstrations surrounding Act 10 in 2011, though vastly smaller in scope. As with that earlier legislation, which stripped most collective bargaining rights from public-sector employees, vocal opposition from the state's unions wasn't enough to stop the right-to-work bill in its tracks.

Republican Congressman Threatens DC Mayor With Arrest Over Marijuana Legalization

Come Thursday, city officials in the nation’s capital will allow residents to grow and possess small amounts of marijuana. But a handful of Republicans in Congress are desperate keep the drug illegal in DC—so desperate that they’ve resorted to intimidation.

“You can go to prison for this. We’re not playing a little game here,” Utah Representative Jason Chaffetz warned in an interview Tuesday with The Washington Post, referring to DC mayor Muriel Bowser and other city officials. “We’re putting them on notice.”

The Furor Over Campus Rape Is More Than a Moral Panic

We are now fully into the backlash phase of the campus rape story. It’s only been a few years since the issue burst into public consciousness, driven by an extraordinary group of young women who’d turned their victimization into fuel for activism. Students and former students, they’d been raped while at college; when they sought help from administrators, they were treated with indifference or outright obstruction. Finding each other online, they launched a campaign that eventually reached President Obama, and ultimately changed how Title IX, the law banning gender discrimination in education, is enforced. For a little while, their story captivated the media.

Pasco Police Fired 17 Shots At Unarmed Mexican Migrant For Throwing Rocks At Them

Police in Washington state fired 17 shots at an unarmed Mexican migrant on Feb. 10, hitting him as many as six times, authorities said Wednesday.

Wednesday's statement from the Tri-Cities Special Investigations Unit, a squad of officers from four police departments assigned to investigate the killing of Antonio Zambrano-Montes, is the first time authorities have confirmed how many shots police fired during the confrontation over rock-throwing. The statement said five or six shots struck Zambrano-Montes.

American Jews Worry That Netanyahu's Speech Here Can Hurt Israel

While few American Jewish leaders will speak openly on the subject, many thoughtful Jews are worried that Prime Minister Netanyahu's planned speech in the House of Representatives on March 3rd will actually harm Israel's security interests rather than help them. They fear that the US electorate, which is clearly unwilling to get involved in another major conflict following on the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, may see Netanyahu's speech as war mongering -- an attempt to push the United States into military conflict with Iran.

Until now, the implications of the positions taken by Netanyahu and the arguments he has made have not been closely followed by the American public or carefully scrutinized by the media in this country. However, a speech by Netanyahu before the Congress intended to influence the legislative process, especially now, after the tensions with the Obama Administration and the politicization of his speech both here and in Israel, will attract great attention.

Greek Finance Minister Varoufakis Wants Austerity ... for the Rich

SHARMINI PERIES, EXEC. PRODUCER, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I’m Sharmini Peries, coming to you from Baltimore.

The four-month extension secured by the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, on Friday came with the condition that Greece provide a list of measures to quell the concerns of its international lenders, especially the German banks represented by the finance ministers in Brussels, who feared that Athens might bail on the promises to cut spending and implement austerity measures. So, on Sunday, Athens provided that list.

Majority Of Republican Primary Voters Want To Violate The First Amendment

A national poll of Republican primary voters conducted by Public Policy Polling finds that 57 percent of these voters support “establishing Christianity as the national religion.” The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.”
Only 30 percent of Republican voters believe that Congress should not make a law respecting an establishment of religion, according to the poll.
The same poll also finds that 74 percent of GOP primary voters have a favorable opinion of former President George W. Bush. Two-thirds (66%) do not believe in global warming, and a plurality (49%) do not believe in evolution.
Original Article

Giuliani’s Love for His Country Is Equal to the Money He Makes

Over the last few days we’ve seen a slew of arrows directed at Rudy Giuliani for the hateful, derisive comments he made about Barack Obama’s alleged lack of “love for his country.” There’s even been a few grunts of dissatisfaction from fellow Republicans worried about the impact of Giuliani’s outlandish comments on the 2016 elections.

Few commentators, however, have seen his differences with the president in economic terms.

That’s a mistake: Giuliani’s disgust with our first African-American president is deeply rooted in his own security-business interests, which depend on magnifying the potential danger from terrorism and gang violence to the highest extent possible.

Canada Considers Joining U.S.-Led Training Mission In Ukraine

OTTAWA - The Harper cabinet is actively and seriously considering whether Canada should join the U.S. and Britain in a military training mission to shore up embattled Ukrainian troops, Defence Minister Jason Kenney said Wednesday.

The notion drew a lukewarm response from opposition parties, who seem reluctant to see Canada venture further into the tinderbox of eastern Europe beyond the delivery of non-lethal military aid and satellite intelligence.

CSIS needs power to stop high-risk travellers, says Steven Blaney

Canada must take action to prevent its citizens from travelling abroad for terrorist purposes, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said after a CBC News investigation revealed a 23-year-old woman travelled to Syria after being radicalized.

"Clearly, Canada cannot become an exporter of terrorism. This is not the Canadian way of living," Blaney said Wednesday.

The woman, whom CBC News is calling Aisha to protect her identity, made the journey to Syria to join up with ISIS last summer, after taking an online course to study the Qur’an taught by a woman based in Edmonton, according to her older sister Rabia (whose name has also been changed).

Taxpayers paid legal bills for Tory MPs in robocalls case

The House of Commons paid a six-figure legal bill incurred by a group of Conservative MPs named in an unsuccessful legal challenge of the 2011 election results based on misleading robocalls.

Sources tell the Citizen that the House’s secretive Board of Internal Economy agreed to approve payments for fees incurred by at least six MPs who were named as respondents in the Federal Court challenge, which was backed by the Council of Canadians, an advocacy group.

The court in 2013 had ordered the council to pay the MPs a total of $13,206 – just a small share of the $355,907 their lawyer, Arthur Hamilton, had sought to recover.

Toxic waste facility would be "catastrophe" for Fraser River: Sto:lo advisor

It’s an innocuous bridge, not pretty to look at, but vital: the Vedder Bridge connects the cities of Abbotsford and Chilliwack over the Vedder Canal, which flows into the Fraser River. If a new recycling plant proposed by Ontario-based company Aevitas is approved by the province, the bridge will see a steady stream of truck-traffic carrying harmful pollutants.

West of the bridge and at the base of Sumas Mountain lies the Sema:th band village. Every year from spring to fall, the Sema:th cast nets out onto the nearby Fraser River, says Ernie Crey, fisheries adviser to the Sto:lo Nation.

Meetings between Kinder Morgan and feds leave no paper trail

No records, no agenda, no minutes, no briefing notes. That's what Vancouver-based economist and former ICBC CEO Robyn Allan learned from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request on senior-level meetings between the federal government and Texas-based oil giant Kinder Morgan.

"It's not just bad administration," said Allan. "It's a betrayal of public trust."

Three of the meetings involved then-Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver.

How Harper's disastrous diplomacy crushed Keystone XL

President Obama's veto of the Keystone XL pipeline is nothing less than a devastating indictment of Stephen Harper's foreign policy.

Despite the imperative that Canada diversify our access to foreign markets, no relationship is or ever will be more important to this country's fortunes than the one it has with the US, and most of all, the White House.

But the weight of Harper's ambition and ego brought that historic relationship to its knees, and with it, the prime minister's own defining economic and foreign policy objectives.

Canadian Embassy went too far to protect mining company interests in Mexico, critics say

Canadian diplomats and trade commissioners went further than they should have in their quest to protect the interests of mining company Excellon Resources Inc. in a dispute with local workers and landowners at a silver mine in Mexico, critics say.

Emails written during a blockade and protest in the summer of 2012 were obtained by MiningWatch Canada through an access to information request to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.

At the time, tensions were rising between Excellon, some of the workers at the La Platosa mine and Ejido La Sierrita, the community that owned the land on which the mine was operating.

Has the battle over Keystone XL wrecked Canada-U.S. relations?

In the context of a $700-billion annual trading relationship, a single pipeline project is a blip on the radar. But when it comes to the epic six-year impasse between the Harper government and the Obama administration over the Keystone XL pipeline, intended to link the Alberta oil sands to U.S. refineries, it’s a different matter entirely.

President Barack Obama’s decision this week to veto pipeline approval legislation and his increasingly negative tone toward the project have met with undisguised Canadian frustration. The latest display came in a scathing letter from Ambassador Gary Doer to Secretary of State John Kerry, in which he criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s view that the pipeline would contribute to increased greenhouse gas emissions from the oil sands. “One is left with the conclusion that there has been significant distortion and omission to arrive at the EPA’s conclusions,” wrote Doer, lobbing an extraordinary accusation at a regulatory agency supervised by the President.

Susan Rice: Netanyahu Visit 'Destructive' To U.S.-Israel Relationship

Susan Rice, President Barack Obama's national security adviser, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's planned speech in front of a joint session of Congress will be "destructive" to U.S.-Israel relations.

"What has happened over the last several weeks, by virtue of the invitation that was issued by the Speaker [John Boehner] and the acceptance of it by Prime Minister Netanyahu two weeks in advance of his election, is that on both sides, there has now been injected a degree of partisanship, which is not only unfortunate, I think it's destructive of the fabric of the relationship," Rice told PBS' Charlie Rose.

Nevada Lawmaker Says Cancer Is A Fungus, Recommends Simply Washing It Out

Nevada Assemblywoman Michele Fiore (R) wants to reform the rules of end-of-life medical care so that more cancer patients can simply flush out their disease using baking soda.

Fiore, who is also CEO of a healthcare company, told listeners to her weekly radio show on Saturday, that she will soon introduce a “terminally ill bill,” to allow more non-FDA-approved treatments for those diagnosed as having terminal illnesses.

Political activist Ken Stone takes CSIS to task for alleged harassment

What is it like to be targeted by Canada's spy agency? Veteran anti-war and environmental activist Ken Stone knows firsthand and is willing to talk about it.
The retired school teacher is presently taking the legal route: making a formal complaint against the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). This action follows the sudden appearance of two agents at his Hamilton home two years ago.
"The visit was not warranted under the mandate of CSIS. It caused anxiety for me and my family. It was an attempt to intimidate me, and my family members in lawfully exercising our charter rights, of freedom of speech and association, and my right to criticize the government of Canada, and its policies," said Stone.

Ron Paul: Congressional Black Caucus Opposed War Because They Wanted To Spend Money On Food Stamps Instead

Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said earlier this month that members of the Congressional Black Caucus opposed war because they wanted to spend money on food stamps instead.

During a radio interview with Lew Rockwell that was first highlighted by BuzzFeed, Paul said that he was always annoyed with those who opposed war but supported sanctions.
"I was always annoyed with it in Congress because we had an anti-war unofficial group, a few libertarian Republicans and generally the black caucus and others, they're really against war because they want all that money to go to food stamps for people here," Paul said. "But when it came to sanctions, they just could never vote against sanctions because that would prevent war and they wanted to look tough and they'd go on with the sanctions but never get the results that they thought they were gonna get."
The comments come as Paul's son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), seems to be gearing up for a presidential run. The Kentucky senator -- who has worked to reach out to black voters -- has distanced himself from his father's isolationist views.
Original Article
Author: Sam Levine

Nova Scotia paves the way for Charter challenge to Health Authorities Act

Last year, the McNeil government passed the Health Authorities Act, ostensibly (and laudably) to streamline the province's health-care system, but also (and shabbily) to game that system. 
The legislation reduced the number of health districts from 10 to two, and the number of collective bargaining units from 50 to four. But the government's stealth agenda was to emasculate its union nemesis, the powerful Nova Scotia Government Employees Union, and cheat the province's 24,000 health-care workers of their Charter-given right to choose who should represent them.

Netanyahu Declines Invite To Meet With Senate Democrats

WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined on Tuesday an invitation to meet with U.S. Senate Democrats during his trip to Washington next week.

"Though I greatly appreciate your kind invitation to meet with Democratic Senators, I believe that doing so at this time could compound the misperception of partisanship regarding my upcoming visit," Netanyahu wrote in a letter to Senators Richard Durbin and Dianne Feinstein obtained by Reuters.

The fight for Canadians' right to vote continues

Believe it or not, the fight over Stephen Harper's Fair Elections Act is not over.
It is true that after persistent efforts by the Official Opposition's Craig Scott, and pressure from elements of their own base, the Conservatives changed some of the Act's obnoxious provisions.
But many still remain.
Among those are: the limits on the powers of the Elections Commissioner (the chief investigator of abuse) and the Chief Electoral Officer, the end of vouching and the added ID requirements that will bar many (especially among the young and the poor) from voting.

Canada pulls funding for Palestinian NGO after founder criticizes Baird

Canada has terminated a funding agreement for a project aimed at training women to participate in municipal politics in the West Bank following critical comments directed at John Baird by the founder of a Palestinian NGO.

The Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development signed a $27,000 contribution agreement with a Ramallah-based NGO known as MIFTAH on Jan. 13, 2015 for the organization to provide training for women involved in municipal politics in the West Bank.

Li case exposes ugly truth about Tories

The ugly truth has been revealed.

Like many observers, I have always assumed the Conservative government's efforts to more harshly punish citizens found not criminally responsible for their crimes because of mental illness was part of a cynical but deliberate strategy to pander for votes.

The theory is pretty sound. There are many votes to be had by demonizing NCRs (which is unjust), portraying them as a threat to public safety (which is empirically untrue) and prescribing new, tougher sentences to make society safer (which they don't).
It makes sense for the Tories to play this card now, with a federal election expected this year. Yes, it's a bunch of hooey, but it's hard to deny the political benefits.

Egyptian Blogger Sentenced to 5 Years in Prison for Protest Role

ISTANBUL — A blogger who came to be one of the best-known faces of the 2011 uprising in Egypt was sentenced to five years in prison on Monday, part of the military-backed government’s continuing crackdown on dissent.

The blogger, Alaa Abd El Fattah, 33, comes from a prominent family of left-leaning activists and writers. He was convicted of taking part in an unauthorized November 2013 demonstration against military trials of civilians, as well as related charges like rioting and disturbing the peace. In addition to the prison sentence, he was fined $13,000 by the court in Cairo.

Wall Street's Terrible Argument Against A Rule That Could Save Americans Billions

It’s pretty hard to come up with a good argument against the White House’s Monday proposal to require brokers to act in their client’s best interest when it comes to retirement accounts. But the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) is a lobbying group thats gets paid to make such arguments, so it took a stab at it.

The new regulation, called the fiduciary rule, would apply to 401(K)s and other kinds of retirement savings, and it would require brokers to act in the best interest of their clients, rather than the best interest of their top line. Currently, brokers who work on commission can get paid extra to push people into high-fee funds, or encourage them to trade more often than they should. The White House said Monday that the Labor Department will release more details on the proposed plan in the coming months.

Illinois, Wisconsin Governors Propose Deep Spending Cuts To Universities

If proposals by two Republican governors are approved, public universities in Illinois and Wisconsin could soon experience sweeping layoffs, program eliminations and possible campus closures.

This month, Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) unveiled budgets with deep spending cuts for public universities. Rauner's proposed 2016 budget contains a 31.5 percent, or $387 million, reduction in funding for public universities. Wisconsin's 2015-2017 budget would shrink state funding by 13 percent, or $300 million over two years, the largest reduction in the state's history.

Harper Calls Anti-Terror Bill Criticisms From NDP Ridiculous

OTTAWA - Prime Minister Stephen Harper is urging a House of Commons committee to study the government's anti-terror bill as quickly as possible, in spite of accusations the Conservatives are using their majority to rush the legislation onto the books.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair told the Commons on Tuesday it is essential to scrutinize the bill, and asked Harper to ensure that security and human rights experts are not only heard, but also heeded.

High mutual fund fees could delay retirement plans, CCPA says

High mutual fund fees could cause Canadians to delay their retirement by as much as 11 years or else leave them with 40 per cent less money for their retirement, says a report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

The think-tank published the report on Tuesday as Canadians were going through their annual tradition of trying to decide where to invest money before the RRSP deadline on March 2.

Since their creation several decades ago, RRSPs have become a major element in retirement planning. But that growth in importance has been accompanied by a decline in workplace pension plans. In 1997, about 43 per cent of workers were covered by some sort of pension plan. Today, that figure has fallen to 27 per cent.