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, September 22, 2015

Stephen Harper defends refugee response as ‘generous’

OTTAWA—Conservative Leader Stephen Harper is defending his government’s approach to the Syrian refugee crisis as “generous and responsible.”

And he took aim at the Liberals and New Democrats for what he branded as their “reckless” promises to throw open Canada’s doors to assist with the humanitarian crisis.

“Our policy has been more refugees, a faster process and more financial support for the region, all done with careful selection of the refugees,” Harper said during a campaign stop in Windsor, Ont., on Sunday.

Canadians get ripped off at the pumps

A huge disconnect exists between the price of crude oil and gasoline even though crude is the major component in a refiner’s cost. Big Oil is taking advantage of Canadians at the pumps.
The Harper government seems worried voters might figure it out. When the election was called, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) stopped producing the Fuel Focus Report—its bi-weekly window on economic drivers influencing gasoline prices “intended to provide Canadians with regular information on the various aspects of the gasoline market in Canada.”

Pope Celebrates Mass In Havana, Warns Against Dangers Of Ideology

HAVANA, Sept 20 (Reuters) - Pope Francis celebrated Mass in Havana's Revolution Square on Sunday, offering both spiritual and political messages for the tens of thousands who packed the plaza, the symbolic heart of the Cuban revolution.

He warned of the dangers of power and ideology when others are excluded. At the same time, Cuban police kept some dissidents from attending and pounced on others apparently attempting to hand out flyers near the Mass.

Corbynism: A Farewell to Power

Only one thing matters for the future of the Labour party: does Jeremy Corbyn have any ideas about how to woo back the voters Labour lost to the Tories last May?

We know the Left love him; what we don't know is whether he has any idea how to win enough votes to return Labour to power in 2020. Because what his devoted fans have not yet taken on board is that there simply aren't enough Lefties in Britain to install Mr Corbyn in Downing Street.

Jeremy Corbyn Government Would Face 'Mutiny' If It Tried To Downgrade Military, Army General Warns

There have been plenty of offbeat predictions following Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour party. Yet the most threatening came on Sunday with an unnamed army general raising the prospect of a coup should the 66-year-old become prime minister.

Speaking to the Sunday Times, the serving serviceman said a Labour government under Corbyn would face “mutiny” from the British Army should the veteran peace campaigner try to downgrade the military, threatening to "use whatever means possible, fair or foul” to maintain security.

F-35 committee probe stalled, shutting down soon?

Opposition MPs are asking whether the government has something to hide, after a Conservative motion to wrap up the public accounts committee's investigation into the controversial F-35 fighter jets purchase.

The motion, introduced during a closed-door meeting of the Commons public accounts committee, would ensure the committee proceeded to write its report without hearing from any more witnesses.

Pentagon updates plans for war with 'potentially aggressive' Russia

The Pentagon is reportedly reviewing and updating its contingency plans for a war with Russia for the first time since the collapse of the Soviet Union, with a defense official telling US media that Russia's “actions” prompted the assessment.

“Given the security environment, given the actions of Russia, it has become apparent that we need to make sure to update the plans that we have in response to any potential aggression against any NATO allies,” a senior defense official familiar with the plan told Foreign Policy.

Anger after Saudi Arabia 'chosen to head key UN human rights panel'

The United Nations is coming under fire for handing Saudi Arabia a key human rights role even though the Kingdom has “arguably the worst record in the world” on freedoms for women, minorities and dissidents.

Critics, including the wife of imprisoned pro-democracy blogger Raif Badawi – sentenced to 1000 lashes for blogging about free speech – say that the appointment is “scandalous” and means that “oil trumps human rights”.

Tsipras' Syriza Party Wins Greek Election

Greece's Syriza party is set to win a convincing victory in the national election, as the last of the votes are still being tallied. The projected result marks a degree of vindication for leader Alexis Tsipras, who looks set to return to the post of prime minister that he held until late last month.

The head of the opposition New Democracy party, Vangelis Meimarikis, conceded defeat after Syriza took a sizable lead early in the counting. With 80 percent of ballots counted, Syriza is expected to win around 35 percent of the vote, The Associated Press reported.

Say Her Name: What It Means to Center Black Women's Experiences of Police Violence

Early one morning in July 2015, a new hashtag - #WhatHappenedtoSandraBland? - popped up on Twitter. The question pertained to the death in police custody of a 28-year-old Black woman from Naperville, Illinois, shortly after her arrest in Prairie View, Texas, on July 10, 2015. Police claimed she committed suicide; her family is certain she did no such thing. They had spoken to her just hours before she was alleged to have taken her own life, discussing arrangements to post her bail.

A few days later, a cop watcher's video was released by Al Jazeera. You can hear Sandra Bland's voice in the background crying, "You just slammed my head to the ground! Do you not even care about that?" "I can't hear!" and "I can't even fucking feel my arm!" The video ends with Bland thanking the cop watcher for recording the incident as she is placed in a police car. Three days later she was dead.

Victoria Homeless Paid $20 'Consulting Fee' To Attend City Meeting

The mayor of Victoria, B.C. is defending a decision to pay $20 each to nearly 400 homeless people to participate in a meeting on housing options.

Mayor Lisa Helps compared the payout to consulting fees, telling the Times-Colonist: "We pay consultants all the time and usually we pay consultants $150 to $200 an hour. These are the least-expensive consultants we’ve ever hired and when they showed up they had already done their research."

B.C. Wolf Cull Increase Is The Best Plan To Save Caribou: Experts, Government Officials

VICTORIA — British Columbia is aiming to increase the number of wolves it kills this winter in the second year of a plan to save endangered caribou, prompting criticism from celebrities and renewed debate over the controversial strategy.

The wolf cull is the best shot to protect threatened caribou from extinction, say caribou experts and government officials, who admit it will take years to determine if the science behind killing wolves works.

'No Hope' For Syrian Families Who Want To Reunite In Canada, Refugee Says

VANCOUVER — Majd Agha wasn't sure what he would say to a crowd of reporters gathered outside a newcomer centre under construction in Vancouver.

The 22-year-old Syrian refugee didn't prepare a speech. But still infuriated by news of a Hungarian camerawoman tripping and kicking migrants, he spoke eloquently and firmly about the need for Canada to do more.

"As long as you're Syrian, it's going to be extremely hard for you to come to Canada," he said in an interview at the recent event.

Justin Trudeau vows to scrap F-35 fighter jet program

The Liberal Party will scrap the Conservatives' troubled F-35 fighter jet program should they assume government, Leader Justin Trudeau announced in Halifax today.

"Our Canadian Forces are in a state of stagnation," Trudeau said to a crowd of supporters at Pier 21 in Halifax, home to the Canadian Museum of Immigration.

Judge Reminds Anti-Abortion Corporation It Is Not A Person, Cannot Plead The Fifth

A judge in the U.S District Court for the Northern District of California has ruled that the organization behind undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood cannot plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid handing over any materials related to a lawsuit filed against the organization.

In August, counsel for the Center for Medical Progress and BioMax, the organizations behind the videos that led to the latest round of conservative outrage against Planned Parenthood, informed the court that they planned to invoke the Fifth Amendment in order to avoid testifying in a lawsuit brought by the National Abortion Federation.

If You’re Deported From The U.S., You’re Likely To Be Abused On The Way Out

More than one-third of deported migrants experience some type of abuse or mistreatment by U.S. immigration agents in the process of being sent away from the country, according to a new study released this week by the immigrant advocacy organization Kino Border Initiative (KBI). Customs and Border Protection agents routinely verbally and physically abuse border crossers, take their possessions, and conduct nighttime deportations, the report found.

One in three men and women said they were subjected to some type of abuse, which the report stated “can deter them from making complaints… and make it more difficult to identify individuals in need of international protection.” After verbal abuse, the second most common form of mistreatment was the confiscation of and failure to return belongings, with men more likely to have their belongings taken and not returned. Without money or cell phones, people deported from the United States are vulnerable to extortion and can be stranded in dangerous border cities.

Asked About Ferguson, Scott Walker Says Police Are Always Right

GREENVILLE, S.C. — According to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, police officers — who have killed more than 700 people so far this year — are always right.

During Heritage Action’s presidential candidate forum on Friday, the group’s CEO asked the Republican presidential candidate about the “Ferguson effect” — the false theory that police have slowed down enforcement due to public scrutiny, which has lead to more crime. Instead of addressing the demonstrations in Ferguson and other cities across the country in which Americans raised issues with police violence and racial inequalities in policing, Walker used the question as an opportunity to defend law enforcement unilaterally.

Republican Presidential Candidates Defend Trump’s Controversial Comments On Muslims

GREENVILLE, S.C. — Donald Trump was scheduled to speak at Heritage Action’s presidential candidate forum in South Carolina on Friday. A few hours before the event, amidst national backlash to racist comments he made Thursday night, he backed out, citing a “significant business transaction.”

Had Trump attended, he would have likely claimed that he didn’t mean to be offensive and that he was supporting Christians and religious liberty, as his campaign has contended already this week. But even without the Republican frontrunner in attendance, other conservatives at the event came to his defense.

The Far Left Needs to Relax a Little and Support Bernie Sanders

In this presidential summer of our discontent, the radical left has been fighting hard—not chiefly against capitalism and its galloping calamities, it seems, but against . . . Bernie Sanders. Scarcely a day passes without an ominous recitation of Sanders’s manifold political shortcomings—Sanders exposés (read examples here, here, here and here) seem to have become a thriving cottage industry for the far-left commentariat.

The Media Can No Longer Pretend That Trump’s Racist Birtherism Is Old News

Much of the mainstream media have had to face the inconvenient news today that, yep, Donald Trump’s racist birther beliefs are alive and well. Inconvenient because, although the MSM has given Trump’s presidential campaign extraordinary amounts of coverage, they’ve largely forgotten—willfully or not—that in his view Barack Obama is some kind of Kenyan-born Muslim. “Oh, that birther thing—that’s old news,” they figure. “We can’t take our eyes off the new, winner Trump.”

Harper Appeals To New Canadians With 'Maple Leaf' Award For Fostering LInks

OTTAWA — The Conservatives are continuing their campaign efforts to shore up electoral support among new Canadians with the announcement of a new award for people who foster links between Canada and their country of origin.

Stephen Harper announced in a press release that a re-elected Conservative government would create something called a "Maple Leaf" designation, to be awarded to no more than five to seven individuals per year.

Hundreds of officers in the Greater Toronto Area disciplined for ‘serious’ misconduct in past five years

A York Region rookie hits his wife with an open hand so hard he ruptures her eardrum.

A Toronto police constable cheats on his sergeant exam on three separate occasions by having his girlfriend, who was also a police officer, radio him the answers.

An OPP constable drives a homeless aboriginal man several kilometres out of town and leaves him to walk back at dusk along a busy highway in near-freezing temperatures.

Congratulations, GOP. You're Confirming Judges At The Slowest Rate In 60 Years.

WASHINGTON -- Senate Republicans are confirming federal judges at the slowest rate in more than 60 years, fueling a "politically motivated vacancy crisis" in the nation's courts, according to an analysis released Thursday by Alliance for Justice.

The report, Politics over Justice: Judicial Selection in the 114th Congress, looks at the pace of judicial confirmations since Republicans took control of the Senate in January. GOP leaders have only let six of President Barack Obama's judicial picks get confirmation votes this year. For context: when Democrats controlled the Senate during President George W. Bush's seventh year in office, they had confirmed 29 of his judicial nominees by this point.

17 Women Share How Planned Parenthood Transformed Their Lives

Despite the fact that the majority of Americans back the use of federal funds for Planned Parenthood, the United State House of Representatives voted Friday to pull funding for the healthcare provider for one year -- a move The White House charged "would limit access to health care for men, women, and families across the Nation, and would disproportionately impact low-income individuals." 

House passes bills to defund Planned Parenthood amid shutdown threats

Days away from a politically disastrous government shutdown, the House of Representatives passed two abortion-related bills in a move by party leadership to quell conservative hardliners who have threatened to defund Planned Parenthood.

The House voted, largely along party lines, to send the bills to the Senate, where Democrats there have enough votes to block the measures. President Barack Obama, a strong supporter of the women’s health program, has threatened to veto the legislation if it reaches his desk.

Harper Defends Comments Against Alberta NDP

Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended a string of comments slamming the Alberta NDP Friday morning, saying that the party's economic record is a risk the Canadian economy can't afford.
"The NDP in particular is running on the same platform the NDP always runs on," Harper said at a Calgary press conference on Friday. "They come in with billions of dollars of spending they undertake, and they come in claiming they're going to pay for it all by raising taxes. We have seen that that does not work."

Stephen Harper's 'old-stock Canadians': Politics of division or simple slip?

To rephrase the popular Meghan Trainor song, when it comes to the Conservative campaign, the theory goes, it's always all about that base.

This is why EKOS pollster Frank Graves said that Harper's use of the term "old-stock Canadians" in Thursday's debate was a deliberate ploy to energize his supporters, part of the overall strategy to create a sense of us-versus-them.

Some Context for Twitter's 'Old Stock Canadians' Backlash

After last night's Globe debate on the economy, one statement catapulted to meme status far quicker than, say, Tom Mulcair's pot joke or Justin Trudeau's "lack of ambition" puzzler.

That statement was Stephen Harper's reference to "old stock Canadians," which immediately sent the Internet searching for what the Conservative leader actually meant.

First, let's play back the tape:

"The fact of the matter is, we have not taken away health care for immigrants and refugees," said Harper, reluctantly addressing his party's changes to the Interim Federal Health Program. "On the contrary, the only time we've removed it is when we have clearly bogus refugee claimants who have been refused and turned down. We do not offer them a better health care plan than the ordinary Canadian receives. I think that's something that new and existing and old stock Canadians agree with."

Vanishing Canada: Why we’re all losers in Ottawa’s war on data

When told that his small Prairie town had, in profound ways, fallen off the statistical map of Canada, Walter Streelasky, mayor of Melville, Sask., is incredulous. Streelasky had no idea Melville had been rendered a “statistical ghost town” after the mandatory long-form census was cut in 2010, and fewer than 50 per cent of the one third of Melville’s 4,500 residents who got the voluntary National Household Survey that replaced it in 2011 completed the form. Melville still exists—but as a shadow. We know how many people live there, but nothing about them—where they work, their education levels, whether they’re married, single or divorced, how many are immigrants, how many are unemployed, how many live in poverty. Melville’s numbers, then, aren’t factored into Canadian employment numbers or divorce rates or poverty rates. According to Sask Trends Monitor, the high non-response rate in the province resulted in “no socioeconomic statistics about the populations in about one-half of Saskatchewan communities.” Nationally, we’re missing similar data on 20 per cent of StatsCan’s 4,556 “census subdivisions,” making a fifth of Canada’s recognized communities statistical dead zones.

The F-35 is now unaffordable thanks to the low Canadian dollar

The Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF) hoped-for-purchase of F-35 fighter jets has hit another obstacle, in the form of a Canadian dollar that has dropped 25 per cent against its U.S. counterpart since 2013. Another, less expensive, non-developmental plane will now need to be chosen to replace the three decade-old CF-18s.

The cost of the F-35 first became an issue in 2010 when the Harper government announced it would acquire 65 of the planes for $9 billion, with a total project cost of $16 billion. The Canadian dollar was then at US$0.96.

Fools, Fascists and Cold Warriors: Take Your Pick

Are they fools or fascists? Probably the former, but there was a disturbing cast to the second GOP debate, a vituperative jingoism reminiscent of the xenophobia that periodically scars Western capitalist societies in moments of disarray.

While the entire world is riveted by the sight of millions of refugees in terrifying exodus attempting to save drowning and starving children, we were treated to the darkly peculiar spectacle of scorn for the children of undocumented immigrants and celebration of the sanctity of the unborn fetus.

Europe’s Handling of the Migrant Crisis Shows Just How Morally Bankrupt It Has Become

This week, Hungary attempted to seal off its border to throngs of desperate refugees with a crudely constructed wire fence. A flimsy prison gate cordoning off Fortress Europe: There could be no clearer metaphor for the absurd small-mindedness of a political bloc that once prided itself on its humanitarian vision.

Families scrambled at the gates at the stroke of midnight. Security forces tried to push back crowds who had traversed continents and oceans, only to see their last hope for sanctuary dissolve in an acid hail of riot police and tear gas.

CBC President Hubert Lacroix: Public Broadcasters ‘Risk Being Boiled To Death'

The president of CBC/Radio-Canada says public broadcasters are caught in a “vicious circle” of budget cuts and service reductions that threaten their continued existence.

“First, we struggle with cuts to our funding,” Hubert Lacroix told an audience at an international public broadcasters’ conference in Munich, Germany, last week.

Coca-Cola To IRS: We Don't Plan To Pay $3.3-Billion Tax Bill

NEW YORK -- Coca-Cola says it was notified by the IRS that it owes $3.3 billion U.S. more in federal taxes, as well as interest, for 2007 to 2009.

The Atlanta-based company says in a regulatory filing Friday that it believe the assessments are without merit and plans to pursue "all administrative and judicial remedies necessary to resolve the matter.''

The maker of Sprite, Dasani, Powerade and other drinks says the disagreement is over how much of the money it makes from licensing products overseas should be considered be considered taxable income in the U.S.

Coca-Cola Co. says it was notified that a recommendation has been made to the IRS's chief counsel that the matter be designated for litigation.

Original Article
Author: AP

Let Me Be Clear: Fact Checking Leaders on Economy and Environment

Much has been made of last night's leaders' -- minus one leader -- debate on the economy, particularly the style. It seemed there was a lot more yelling and interrupting this time around. Gentlemen, please, one at a time!

With all the hootin' and hollerin', you're forgiven if you found it difficult to pull out clear points or pledges from any of the leaders. At least, it wasn't so simple for this fact checker.

Marines Seek To Close Combat Jobs For Women

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Marine Corps is expected to ask that women not be allowed to compete for several front-line combat jobs, inflaming tensions between Navy and Marine leaders, U.S. officials say.

The tentative decision has ignited a debate over whether Navy Secretary Ray Mabus can veto any Marine Corps proposal to prohibit women from serving in certain infantry and reconnaissance positions. And it puts Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marine Corps commandant who takes over soon as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at odds with the other three military services, who are expected to open all of their combat jobs to women.

Low Interest Rates Help Private-Equity Moguls and Hurt Average Americans

No surprise, the Federal Reserve once again caved in to Wall Street pressure and decided to maintain its ridiculous zero-interest-rate policy, or ZIRP, for at least another three months. The Fed has deliberately kept short-term interest rates near zero for nearly seven years, as a way to try to stimulate the economy in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis. But apparently, even long access to nearly free money is not enough to get the economy back on track, although Wall Street has made billions of dollars in profits thanks to ZIRP. “Recent global economic and financial developments may restrain economic activity somewhat and are likely to put further downward pressure on inflation in the near-term,” the central bank said, in its typically opaque statement about the decision. The Fed will likely revisit the topic again in December, and the expectation now is that rates will be raised then, since a majority of Fed officials are set to support an increase. The last time the Fed raised rates was in 2006.

'Old-Stock Canadians' Referenced By Harper Amid Refugee Debate

Three words from Conservative LeaderStephen Harper — "old-stock Canadians" — could add a new element to the last half of the most unpredictable election race in decades.

At one point in The Globe and Mail debate in Calgary Thursday — focused entirely on economic matters — the three main federal leaders were asked to share their views on immigration.

‘Old stock Canadians’ comment gives chills to professor

University of Ottawa professor Duff Conacher said he was shocked by what he considers racist implications of the phrase “old stock Canadians” used by Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Thursday’s leadership debate.
Harper used the phrase “old stock Canadians” in response to a question on refugee policy.

Fact check: Harper says public sector workers shouldn't fear a Conservative victory

The claim: Public sector workers should not fear a Conservative victory. "They really should not be worried," Harper said. Is this true?

In the National Post yesterday, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper said that federal public sector workers have nothing to fear if his party is re-elected.

Senator Who Opposes Federal Minimum Wage Thinks A $700,000 Salary Is Just Fine For Himself

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) opposes a federal minimum wage, but thinks the $700,000-per-year payout he received from his own company was "pretty reasonable."

During an appearance on "The Devil's Advocate" radio program on Wednesday, Johnson was asked about a $10 million payout that he received from a plastics company he owned just before he was sworn in.

Turkey Has Spent Nearly $8 Billion Caring For 2.2 Million Syrian Refugees

ANKARA — Turkey, which hosts the world's largest refugee population, has so far spent $7.6 billion caring for 2.2 million Syrians who have fled strife there, a Turkish deputy prime minister said on Friday.

Turkey has been on the front lines of the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two. It shares a 566 miles border with Syria and has adopted an "open-door policy" towards those fleeing the civil war, now in its fifth year.

Europe is seeing a record influx of migrants fleeing war, persecution and economic hardship this summer.

A record 300,000 or more Syrians and other migrants have arrived in Greece, mostly setting off from Turkey's Aegean coast, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

"Our Coast Guard units have rescued 53,228 people, while 274 people have died" in Turkish waters, Deputy Prime Minister Numan Kurtulmus said at a news conference.

Original Article
Author: Reuters

EI Payouts On The Rise In Canada, Out Of Control In Alberta

The number of Canadians on Employment Insurance rose for the eighth straight month in July, Statistics Canada reported Thursday.

It's a sign that Canada’s labour market continued to struggle into the third quarter of this year, despite signs of a bounce-back in some parts of the economy at the start of the quarter.

The elections are over for Harper (or how I may end up eating my words)

While only half-way through these elections, they are in a real sense all but over.  Or rather, we know at least one outcome: Stephen Harper's Conservatives have lost these elections, and they have run out of time to turn things around (at this point, there is not much to turn around). The only remaining mystery for Canadians is to determine who between Thomas Mulcair's NDP or Justin Trudeau’s Liberals should form the next government.
First, a few words on the Conservatives. Well, it has been an awful campaign and mismanaged from the beginning.  I won't comment on the Duffy trial, or the admission by Harper-appointed senator, Patrick Brazeau of cocaine possession and assault, or on the trial of former Harper advisor Bruce Carson for influence peddling, or to Harper's unspeakable reaction to little Alan Kurdi's body washed up on the beach. Instead, I will only focus my comments on the economy. 

Federal Appeals Court Rules Against Obamacare Contraceptive Mandate

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A federal appeals court ruled Thursday that President Barack Obama's health care law unjustly burdens religiously affiliated employers by forcing them to help provide insurance coverage for certain contraceptives, even though they can opt out of directly paying for it.

The ruling by a three-judge 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in St. Louis upheld lower court decisions that sided with plaintiffs who included three Christian colleges in Missouri, Michigan and Iowa.

Officers Tackle Black Teen For Walking In The Street

A video appears to show a Stockton, California, police officer striking a black teenager in the face with a baton before four officers wrestle the teen to the sidewalk and handcuff him for walking in the street.

 The video, uploaded by witness Evan Avendaño, begins with an officer struggling with the unidentified 16-year-old suspect Wednesday morning. The officer repeatedly tells the teen to stop resisting, then appears to strike him several times with both ends of a baton.

Appeals Court Deals A Blow To Kim Davis' Lawyers For Not Following The Rules

A federal appeals court on Thursday turned away a request filed by lawyers for Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, and chastised Davis' attorneys for not adhering to the rules of the court.

In a two-page ruling, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit denied Davis' request to put on hold a Sept. 3 order that had effectively instructed her to begin serving all couples in Rowan County, Kentucky -- not just those who sued her for not abiding by Obergefell v. Hodges, the case that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June.

Obama's Peace Prize Has Been A Disappointment: Ex-Nobel Director

When President Barack Obama was announced as the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, the decision was met with much controversy.

Obama admitted that he was surprised by the choice. Conservatives were quick to express their outrage and even supporters of the president questioned whether the award was deserved.

Constitutionally, Slavery Is Indeed a National Institution

Sean Wilentz’s latest op-ed in the New York Times, “Constitutionally, Slavery Is No National Institution,” argues that it is a “myth that the United States was founded on racial slavery.” Instead, the Princeton professor demonstrates a woeful misreading of the debates over the drafting of the Constitution. That the document does not contain the words “slave” or “slavery” in no way indicates that it was written to reject the institution. In the debates, the delegates almost always employed euphemisms such as “this unique species of property,” “this unhappy class,” or “such other persons,” as stand-ins for the more repugnant “slaves.” They simply carried that practice over to the final document.

Stephen Harper's Refugee Conundrum

Most government leaders would look at the refugee crisis in Europe and see it as an opportunity, especially during an election, to appear on top of the issue -- with some combination of statesmanship, leadership and intuitive grasp of their own population's sensibility. But Stephen Harper is not most politicians and the refugee crisis turns out to be one of the most intractable and complex issue he has to deal with, which is why he looks so ham-handed over a week into the refugee catastrophe unfolding across the Atlantic. It has shone an extremely unwelcome light on one of the dirty little secrets of the prime minister's old Reform Party political base: it harbours large numbers of people openly hostile to non-European immigration.