Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

New Video Shows Aggressive Arrest of Sandra Bland Prior to Her Death in a Texas Jail

On Tuesday, Texas officials released a police dash cam video showing the July 10 arrest of Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old black woman from Illinois who died three days later in a Waller County jail cell, in a case ruled a suicide by local authorities. The footage shows Texas state trooper Brian Encinia aggressively confronting Bland after pulling her over for a traffic infraction and ordering her out of her car. "I'm going to drag you out of here," he says, reaching into Bland's vehicle. He then pulls out what appears to be a taser, points it at her and yells "I will light you up!" After Bland emerges, they walk out of the frame where the argument continues and Encinia eventually forces Bland to the ground violently as she continues to protest the arrest. (The confrontation can be heard on the police footage, and was already seen widely since late last week, after a different video recorded by a bystander appeared online.)

Dodd-Frank Needs 3 Big Things to Be Finished

Tuesday marks five years since President Obama signed the Dodd-Frank financial reforms into law. While the financial sector remains, at the end of the day, too large and too lightly regulated, Dodd-Frank did accomplish a lot of critical goals for reformers, as Mike Konczal details here.

There are other areas where financial reformers should look next, but the more immediate task is making sure Dodd-Frank is fully implemented. In several critical ways, the law remains an unfinished piece of work.

Donald Trump Is Fox News Incarnate

Several media companies are struggling with how to deal with Donald Trump. He can’t be ignored on ideological grounds—many actual elected Republicans have said far worse things about undocumented immigrants. He can’t be ignored because of paperwork, because for once he filed with the Federal Elections Commission. So now some news outlets, from The Huffington Post to The Wall Street Journal, are trying to disqualify him on the basis of style. This is the silliest excuse of all.

Election 2016: Jeb Bush Speech Denouncing Lobbyists Was Organized By Corporate Lobbying Group

In his speech in Tallahassee, Florida, on Monday denouncing the influence of lobbyists, Jeb Bush neglected to mention one critical detail: The event was organized by a powerful corporate lobbying group that has helped financially support his White House bid.

Speaking at Florida State University, the former Florida governor derided what he called the capital city’s “comfortable establishment” that leverages lobbying power to unduly shape public policy. “I was a governor who refused to go along with that establishment,” Bush said.

Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall sells hard for Stephen Harper and the oil industry

Being a salesman for the oil and gas industry in Canada is not a new role for Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall.

He’s been Stephen Harper’s right hand man on this and other files for a long time. In fact, one commentator recently predicted he would take over from the prime minister when Stephen Harper leaves political life.

At last week's provincial premiers’ annual summer conference, held this year in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the provincial and territorial leaders finally rolled out a Canadian Energy Strategy, a 40 page document first proposed three years ago, which outlines their collective sense of how energy systems should develop in Canada.

CSIS Might Blow Efforts Abroad If Caught By Authorities: RCMP

OTTAWA - The RCMP is concerned new anti-terrorism legislation might hurt — not help — its security efforts overseas, internal notes say.

The Canadian Security Intelligence Service's new powers to disrupt threats "could inadvertently jeopardize existing relationships" the Mounties have fostered if authorities discover what CSIS is doing, RCMP briefing notes warn.

There will be additional pressure on the Mounties to co-ordinate with the spy service so that criminal investigations are not "negatively affected," add the notes, prepared for RCMP deputy commissioner Mike Cabana's appearance at a Senate committee.

Bill C-51: 2 Groups Launch Charter Challenge In Court

OTTAWA - New powers for Canada's spy agency are unconstitutional and represent an extraordinary reversal of the traditional role of the judiciary, two national groups say in a newly filed legal challenge of the Conservative government's omnibus security bill.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association and Canadian Journalists for Free Expression are asking Ontario's Superior Court of Justice to hear their constitutional case against the federal anti-terrorism measures, commonly known as Bill C-51.

Joe Oliver Says No To Quantitative Easing

TORONTO - Finance Minister Joe Oliver says he doesn't see any need for quantitative easing, despite concerns that the country may have fallen into a recession.

"We don't see any need for quantitative easing in this environment," Oliver said Tuesday at Ryerson University in Toronto, where he was promoting an expanded free trade agreement with Israel.

"I mean, after all, we've seen 90,000 jobs created this year, and we look forward to a positive year of growth.

Senate Committee Studying CBC Nearly Crossed Line: Ombudsman

OTTAWA — A Senate committee studying the future of CBC/Radio-Canada came dangerously close to “political interference,” French-language service ombudsman Pierre Tourangeau said Monday.

In an interview with The Huffington Post Canada, Tourangeau said non-elected senators had no business calling him or his CBC counterpart, Esther Enkin, to testify. The “partisan” senators, he said, also had no business calling journalists in charge of news operations, such as Jennifer McGuire and Michel Cormier, to appear before them.

The Conservatives Have Steered Canada Into a Preventable Recession

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz didn't actually use the "R" word: recession. But his monetary policy report last Wednesday said it all the same, using numbers instead of words. By projecting that Canada's economy shrank 0.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2015 (following a similar decline in the first quarter), the Bank joins a growing list of others who have concluded that Canada's economy is now in recession (traditionally defined as two consecutive quarters of negative growth).

How Hedge and Vulture Funds Have Exploited Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis

New York–born Puerto Rican activist David Galarza spent a recent sultry summer Monday picketing a meeting of bondholders by day and meeting with professionals, students, and working people in the evening concerned about the increasingly scary crisis over the island’s $72 billion debt. “I picked up a Freddy Krueger mask on the way down there—a little bit of theater, you know?” Galarza told me. He had come to get a look at Anne Krueger, the former IMF official behind a recent report suggesting solutions to the crisis—solutions that imposed draconian neoliberal “adjustment” burdens on the island’s distressed population—and didn’t hesitate to read her body language as she entered the building. “She looked a little mystified, like she was bewildered that we were even there. She seemed to have an ‘I’m trying to help you people’ attitude.”

Elizabeth Warren Challenges Hillary Clinton to Stop the Revolving Door

At the Netroots Nation convention on Friday, Senator Elizabeth Warren delivered a direct challenge to Hillary Clinton and all Democratic presidential campaigns to support legislation that would end the “revolving door” between top government positions and corporate America.

“Anyone who wants to be president should appoint only people who have already demonstrated they are independent,” Warren said to the progressive convention-goers, “who have already demonstrated that they can hold giant banks accountable, who have already demonstrated that they embrace the kind of ambitious economic policies that we need to rebuild opportunity and a strong middle class in this country.”

How the US Chamber of Commerce Is Helping Big Tobacco Poison the Rest of the World

The US Chamber of Commerce hasn't just worked to thwart climate change legislation, obstruct health care reform, and pooh-pooh Wall Street regulations. The nation's most powerful business lobby recently turned its attention to promoting cigarettes overseas, apparently using a rationale that corporations are, well, people:
"The Chamber regularly reaches out to governments around the world to urge them to avoid measures that discriminate against particular companies or industries," the Chamber said in a short statement responding to a recent New York Times piece on its tobacco lobbying. Since 2011, according to the Times, the US Chamber intervened in at least nine countries and the European Union—either directly or through one of its many foreign affiliates—to oppose regulations designed to prevent smoking.

John Kasich Is Running for President. Here's What You Need to Know About Him.

After months of hinting at a possible presidential campaign, today Ohio Gov. John Kasich will make it official when he appears at Ohio State University, his alma mater, and announces his run for the GOP nomination. The 16th GOP contender in a field filled with big personalities, Kasich is wasting no time in beginning his tour of key primary states. He will leave Ohio State to campaign in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Michigan.

The Trans-Pacific trade agreement: A partnership of one

The United States is reportedly considering cutting Canada out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, a huge international free trade agreement. The negotiations for the TPP have been extremely secretive because much like the entire KFC menu, if you knewwhat was in it, you'd be having none of it. 

California Bridge Passed Inspection Before Collapsing In Flash Flood

DESERT CENTER, Calif. (AP) — The interstate bridge that washed out in the desert between Los Angeles and Phoenix easily withstood its daily load of thousands of cars and trucks, but it failed when the pounding of a powerful flash flood scoured away land where the bridge was anchored, officials said Monday.

The flood severed a highway vital to the movement of people and commerce between two of the nation's largest cities. On an average day, Interstate 10 carries about 27,000 vehicles in either direction where the bridge failed.

This Is How Scott Walker Responded When A 13-Year-Old Girl Asked Why He Was Trying To Deport Her Dad

A 13-year-old U.S. citizen of undocumented parents living in Wisconsin twice confronted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a 2016 Republican presidential candidate, in Iowa on Sunday to ask why their state was part of a lawsuit challenging President Obama’s executive action on deportation relief for upwards of five million immigrants.

During the five-minute exchange obtained by Voces de la Frontera, Walker told 13-year-old Leslie Flores, “I completely sympathize with the situation you’re all in and others are in,” but said that he wouldn’t drop Wisconsin from the lawsuit because “the president of the United States can’t make law without going through the Congress.”

How Can Greece Break Out of the Austerity Trap?

Greek banks have reopened this week, but Greece’s economy remains trapped in a tragic financial standoff—ironically, an economic war orchestrated by the monetary system originally designed to promote peaceful cooperation. So as the protests, financial panic, and political brinksmanship run their course, can anyone envision Greece actually rebuilding from this mess? Whether it leaves or stays under the yoke of the German-led technocracy, Athens will need to find an alternative path to recovery.

Poilievre Wears Conservative Party Shirt While Promoting Universal Child Care Benefit

A key Conservative minister is again being accused of blurring the line between government and partisan business, this time because of a small but unmistakable logo on his blue shirt.

Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre attended an event in Halifax Monday organized by his department to promote the government's enhanced Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB). Starting Monday, some $3 billion in payments are being delivered to parents across Canada.

Rick Coupland, St. Lawrence College Prof, Investigated Over Homophobic Post

A business professor at St. Lawrence College's campus in Kingston, Ont. is the subject of a probe after he posted on Facebook that gay people should be hanged.

Rick Coupland is being investigated after sharing a link to a story about the city of St. Petersburg, Fla. raising a rainbow flag for a Pride festival, The Kingston Whig-Standard reported.

TPP: Another Secretive Trade Deal Big Business Loves

"The very word 'secrecy' is repugnant in a free and open society." -- former U.S. president John F. Kennedy

Would you sign an important deal where the details were secret until after your name was inked on the page?

An agreement that you are told will be great, but could either cost you your job or boost your pay, help or hurt your working conditions, and allow you to be sued if you break the rules you haven't yet seen?

This Is How The World’s Climate Changed Last Year

The state of the world’s climate is complex enough that it takes 413 scientists from 58 countries half a year to completely summarize a year’s worth of data.
And 2014 was a doozy.
According to the American Meteorological Society and NOAA’s “State of the Climate in 2014″report, several markers measuring the earth’s climatic trends set historical records. This is the 25th year that scientists have provided this report, and it was full of hundreds of pages of detailed atmospheric and oceanic summaries of what’s happening to our air, land, and water.

The end of capitalism has begun

The red flags and marching songs of Syriza during the Greek crisis, plus the expectation that the banks would be nationalised, revived briefly a 20th-century dream: the forced destruction of the market from above. For much of the 20th century this was how the left conceived the first stage of an economy beyond capitalism. The force would be applied by the working class, either at the ballot box or on the barricades. The lever would be the state. The opportunity would come through frequent episodes of economic collapse.

Enbridge court argument claiming Aboriginal support called 'delusional'

First Nations leaders across the province are reacting with anger and disbelief today after learning Enbridge has claimed in court that most impacted Aboriginal groups support its Northern Gateway pipeline and tankers proposal.

In documents recently filed with the Federal Court of Appeal, Northern Gateway is attempting to speak on behalf of First Nations, say First Nations leaders, which is not only disrespectful but proof that the company’s claim is out of touch with reality.

Two-degree target may still cause catastrophic sea level rise, James Hansen warns

A leading climate scientist gave an alarming warning that limiting global warming to two degrees Celsius may not prevent a catastrophic sea level rise that would leave major coastal cities from Miami to Mumbai at risk of drowning.

“I think that the major implication of that will be that we hand young people a climate system where it’s not possible to avoid a large sea level rise,” said Hansen, who went on to slam the two-degree target agreed upon at the 2009 Copenhagen talks as being “pulled out of a hat.”

Economists Troll Germany, Telling It To Leave The Euro First

The possibility of a “Grexit” -- or Greek exit from the eurozone -- has dominated headlines in recent months, as round-the-clock negotiations between Greece and its international creditors over a new bailout deal shed doubt on Greece’s future in the monetary union. Many eurozone leaders, particularly in Germany, welcomed the prospect.

But some economists say proponents of a “Grexit” have it all wrong: If one country should leave the eurozone, they argue, it is Germany.

Hot Topics at ALEC's 2015 Meeting This Week in San Diego

This week, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or "ALEC," will bring together hundreds of corporate lobbyists with state and local politicians at a posh hotel in San Diego for the group's annual meeting.

ALEC alum Scott Walker, who has signed over 20 ALEC bills into law, will address this month's meeting, as well as Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz, who participated in ALEC meetings before he joined the U.S. Senate. Community groups are planning on bringing a little transparency to the proceedings, by welcoming the candidates and ALEC participants on July 22.

Why Exactly Is the US at War in Yemen?

The United States is currently waging war in six countries in the Middle East and North Africa - Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Libya and Yemen. America's participation in these wars may include training the local army, using drones to attack suspected terrorists, providing weapons and logistical support to one side side or the other, or sending in American combat troops - sometimes all of the above. None of the countries in which the US military is involved poses a threat to our national security, least of all Yemen.

In Flint, Michigan, Overpriced Water is Causing People’s Skin to Erupt in Rashes and Hair to Fall Out.

On a Saturday afternoon in early May, Gertrude Marshall stood on a sidewalk in front of Flint City Hall holding a hand-printed sign that declared, “We Need Affordable Water.” A 48-year-old grandmother with a kind face and determined eyes, she had come alone to protest the city’s skyrocketing water rates. In the month of April, the city had issued shutoff notices to 378 customers who could not afford to pay their bills.

In some respects, Flint’s water affordability crisis is difficult to fathom. Michigan is “The Great Lake State” after all, a place surrounded by 20 percent of the world’s fresh surface water, suggesting that water should be extremely affordable. But as in Detroit, its more famous sibling city to the south, water has become a high-priced commodity that too many residents can no longer afford. With average household charges nearing $150 a month, Flint’s water and sewer rates are among the highest in the United States.

What Poverty Does to Kids' Brains

A new study suggests that growing up poor affects brain development at an early age, and those brain changes can have huge effects on academic achievement.

Researchers from Duke University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison tracked nearly 400 children and young adults in a longitudinal study over the course of six years, between 2001 and 2007. Every two years, the researchers met with the participants, whose socioeconomic backgrounds ranged from far below the poverty line to far above it.

Greece: Banks Reopen, Amid Higher Taxes On Basic Goods And Cash Restrictions

ATHENS, Greece - Greek banks reopened Monday for the first time in three weeks, but strict limits on cash withdrawals and higher taxes on everything from coffee to diapers meant the economic outlook for the recession-battered country was far from back to normal.

There were hopeful developments: The cash-strapped nation got a short-term loan from European creditors to pay more than 6 billion euros ($6.5 billion) owed to the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. Non-payment of either would have derailed Greece's latest bailout request.

What Greece's new deal means for democracy

After some five months -- capped off with a gruelling 31-hour weekend "EuroSummit" -- the Syriza government has finally reached an agreement with its northern partners to remain within the Eurozone.
Unsurprisingly, the stock markets reacted positively to the news. But I can't say the same for myself.
Syriza's defeat -- for indeed, this "deal" represents a defeat -- offers an invaluable lesson for radical political activists. Many I know were put off by the technical terms and jargon that dominated so much of the coverage of the negotiations.

Why Harper's Tories Remain Best Bet to Win

You've seen the polls putting Thomas Mulcair and his New Democrats on top. Surely the ever rising fortunes of the NDP, turbo-boosted by the Alberta breakthrough, spell the end of the nine-year reign of Stephen Harper's Conservative government. Right?


In fact, Harper is near-certain to be our next prime minister unless the NDP makes significant further breakthroughs in key parts of Canada.

How Harper Put Canada Massively in the Red

In the run up to the 2015 federal election, the Harper government will try to convince Canadians that the prime minister and his crew have been excellent managers of the Canadian economy and that only they are capable of delivering the same stellar results in the future. Heading into this election, they had intended to present a balanced federal budget as proof of their sound stewardship. But as I write this in spring 2015, the latest projections are that the Harper government will have difficulty delivering the long-promised surplus this year. Thanks to the precipitous fall in oil prices and revenues, the government's budgetary watchdog, Mostafa Askari, estimated a deficit as high as $1.2 billion for this year, and as much as $400 million the year following.

Tory, Suburban Ridings To Gain Most From Enriched Child Benefits: CP Analysis

OTTAWA - Most of what is billed as the largest, one-time benefit payment in federal history is likely to hit suburban voters living in federal ridings where the Conservatives can be considered the party to beat, an analysis by The Canadian Press shows.

Number-crunching based on the last census shows that many of the ridings in line to get the biggest cheques from the newly increased Universal Child Care Benefit are in suburban Alberta and the all-important ridings that surround Toronto — and they usually have a history of tilting Tory.

The Racist Killing Fields in the US: The Death of Sandra Bland

On July 9, soon after Sandra Bland, a 28-year-old African-American woman, moved to Texas from Naperville, Illinois, to take a new job as a college outreach officer at her alma mater, Prairie View A&M, she was pulled over by the police for failing to signal while making a lane change. What followed has become all too common and illustrates the ever-increasing rise in domestic terrorism in the United States. She was pulled out of the car by the police for allegedly becoming combative, and was pinned to the ground by two officers. A video obtained by ABC 7 of Bland's arrest "doesn't appear to show Bland being combative with officers but does show two officers on top of Bland."[1]

China Deports 20 Foreign Tourists For Watching 'Extremist' Videos

BEIJING (AP) -- China has deported 20 foreigners from Britain, South Africa and India for watching video clips that advocated terrorism and religious extremism, the official state media reported, while two of the tourists reportedly blamed their detentions on a documentary about Genghis Khan.

Xinhua News Agency said late Saturday that the foreigners watched an unspecified documentary in a hotel room and later some of them watched video clips that advocated terrorism. Police also found similar clips on a cellphone belonging to one of the South Africans, Xinhua said.

Merkel Rules Out Greek Debt Write-Off, But Open To Other Relief

BERLIN (AP) -- Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday suggested that Germany would show flexibility in negotiating how Greece deals with its massive debt, but again ruled out writing off part of the money.

Speaking on ARD television's Bericht aus Berlin program, Merkel said that "a classic haircut of 30, 40 percent of debt cannot happen in a currency union."

But Merkel, who persuaded German lawmakers on Friday to give their overwhelming backing to another financial rescue package, suggested that she was open to discussing ways to lessen the burden on Athens.

Republicans plan new abortion push

Republicans on Capitol Hill are betting the secretly filmed Planned Parenthood video — depicting an executive allegedly discussing the sale of fetal organs from terminated pregnancies — will give them cover to more aggressively push abortion issues without the political ramifications that have haunted the party in the past.

In recent years, Republicans have worked to soften their tone when it comes to contentious issues such as abortion, wanting to avoid a repeat of gaffes like Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” comments that have turned off many female voters.

Latest NDP ad a compelling bit of anti-Conservative narrative

An online video ad released by the NDP this week catalogues a litany of investigations, charges and convictions against various members or past members of the Conservative Party of Canada.

A denunciation of alleged Conservative corruption is recited against an ominous soundtrack and newspaper-style still photography. It is framed within the context of leader Stephen Harper's original promises to reform the Senate and clean up pork barrel politics in the wake of the Liberal sponsorship scandal of the early 2000s.

Greek debt crisis: reforms will fail, says ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis

Economic reforms imposed on Greece by creditors are going to fail, according to the country’s outspoken former finance minister.

Yanis Varoufakis told the BBC that Greece was subject to a programme that will “go down in history as the greatest disaster of macroeconomic management ever”.

His warning came as Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, reshuffled his cabinet barely 48 hours after dissidents broke ranks over the bailout deal for the country.

Alexis Tsipras reshuffles cabinet to get rid of bailout dissidents

The Greek prime minister has sought to rid his government of hardline leftists who oppose further austerity, reshuffling his cabinet barely 48 hours after dissidents broke ranks over a draconian bailout deal for the debt-stricken country.

In a move aimed squarely at displaying his determination to forge ahead with spending cuts and reforms, Alexis Tsipras replaced leading government ministers. The shakeup marked a decisive split from militants in his radical left Syriza party who had voted against tough measures demanded in return for rescue funds from the EU and IMF.

Pipeline Spill In The Heart Of Canada’s Tar Sands Industry Leaks 1.3 Million Gallons Of Oily Emulsion

An pipeline spill in Alberta, Canada has leaked some 1,320,000 gallons, or 31,000 barrels, of emulsion — a mixture of bitumen, produced water, and sand — south of Fort McMurray, a hub for Canada’s tar sands mining and refining industry.

The leak, which was discovered Wednesday afternoon, is the largest pipeline spill in the province in 35 years, when a 54,000 barrel oil spill became Canada’s worst-ever pipeline incident.

Why Don’t U.S. Media Interview Real Allies on American Policy Regarding the Iran Deal?

So after France and Britain and Germany conducted negotiations with Iran over its civilian nuclear enrichment program alongside the United States, you would expect American television news eagerly to seek out interviews on the deal from David Cameron, Francois Hollande and Angela Merkel– or foreign ministers Philip Hammond, Laurent Fabius and Frank-Walter Steinmeier.  I.e., from American allies also involved in the negotiations.

Silicon Valley Emerges as a Political Force

When Jeb Bush visited Silicon Valley this week, the Republican candidate was visiting the heart of a Democratic state that few expect to be contested in the 2016 presidential election. But when it comes to the political money chase, the Northern California home of the world’s technology giants spreads the wealth to both parties—positioning the tech industry as one of the most powerful forces in American politics.

Since 2008, the Internet firms, software companies, computer manufacturers and data processors that comprise Silicon Valley have delivered more than $172 million worth of campaign contributions in federal elections, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. That’s a nearly 40 percent increase over the prior 8 years. Counting only presidential election years, the increase is even more dramatic: The $109 million of Silicon Valley money pumped into the 2008 and 2012 elections represents a 61 percent increase from 2004 and 2000.

Seven companies admit to making illegal corporate donations to ex-MP Penashue

OTTAWA - Seven companies have acknowledged giving illegal donations to former federal cabinet minister Peter Penashue during the 2011 election campaign.

Executives with the seven have struck "compliance agreements" with the commissioner of elections, in which they publicly acknowledge having made illegal contributions and promise to abide by the ban on corporate donations in future.

The admission of responsibility does not constitute a criminal conviction by a court of law and does not create a criminal record.

Elizabeth Warren Just Issued a Major Challenge to All Presidential Contenders

When Senator Elizabeth Warren took the stage at Netroots Nation in Phoenix on Friday, many of the assembled activists hoped she would be coming to them as a presidential candidate—in fact, more than a few of them operated campaigns to convince her to run.

It didn’t work, but the various Draft Warren campaigns, in concert with the Massachusetts senator’s rapid rise in the party, leave her in a unique position to influence the direction of the presidential primary debate. Warren cashed in some of those chips during her speech Friday, issuing a direct challenge to presidential candidates (read: Hillary Clinton) to support specific legislation that would curb some of the financial sector’s influence at federal regulatory agencies.

What Would Harper Do? Anything he wants, mostly.

Just when I thought I’d seen everything … along comes ‘Jesus’ Harper.

Not that the Cons haven’t made more than a few strange jumps in recent weeks. Dumping the traditional television debates. Agreeing to keep Elizabeth May from alternative debate venues like the Munk School (the Harper government gave that group $9 million in federal funding; I’m sure there’s no connection). Proclaiming that we haven’t slipped into another recession — even though we have. Retaining sanctions against Iran, yet still hoping for some of the Ayatollah’s business. All gobsmacking stuff.

Inflation Subdued, But Gas, Food, Housing Prices Rising: StatsCan

  • Gas prices rose sharply for 2 straight months
  • Meat up 6.6 per cent, overall food up 3.4 per cent
  • Core rate at 2.3 per cent
OTTAWA -- The Canadian consumer price index was up 1.0 per cent in June compared with a year ago as higher prices for food and shelter were offset in part by lower gasoline prices, Statistics Canada said Friday.

Gen. Jon Vance Begins Role As New Chief Of Defence Staff

OTTAWA - The Canadian military's new top commander has delivered a clear, tough message, saying bullies and abusers have no place within the ranks and, where they exist, they'll be weeded out.

Gen. Jonathan Vance, a combat veteran of Afghanistan and the country's former operations commander, was sworn in as the chief of defence staff Friday in a high-security ceremony, replacing Gen. Tom Lawson, who is retiring after almost three years in the high-profile post.

Let's Close the Gap Between Canadians and Refugees

Samer tended the barbeque while his wife, Nisreen, relaxed in a lawnchair and their 9-year-old son, Mohammed, kicked a ball around with his cousins. An idyllic family get-together no different than any you might find across Canada on a warm spring day.

Until that evening, when the sky filled with helicopters and the streets with tanks.

That was the scene in Dara'a, Syria, in March, 2011--the opening of Syria's bloody civil war. Four years later, the family's happy life is lost. Nisreen, Samer and Mohammed have joined the miserable ranks of the world's 60 million refugees.