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.]

Sunday, January 29, 2012

African Union embraces generous Chinese financing

Weakened by chronic infighting and the demise of its long-time financier Moammar Gadhafi, the African Union is turning instead to the embrace of its richest new ally: China.

Col. Gadhafi, the Libyan dictator who was overthrown and killed last year, had been the biggest donor to Africa’s political alliance for years. But at its latest summit this weekend, the AU made it clear that Beijing is its new Libya.

The 54-nation African organization is holding its summit in its gleaming new $200-million marble-and-glass headquarters, financed and built by the Chinese government on the site of a former maximum-security prison in Addis Ababa.

It’s the tallest building in the country, and all of it – even the furniture in its spectacular 2500-seat Grand Hall – was supplied by China as a gift to the world’s poorest continent.

The honoured guest and keynote speaker at the African summit is a senior Chinese official, Jia Qinglin, who announced on Sunday that China will provide $95-million in funds to the AU over the next three years – a huge boost to an organization whose annual budget is about $270-million.

An urgent need for an alternative voice


Starting Monday, Stephen Harper pulls back the curtain.

No longer dealing with a backlog from the minority years, this Parliamentary session will reveal what life means to Canadians under majority Conservative rule.

That retirement for which you have meticulously planned will be different.

The rules on environmental hearings will be changed to “streamline” the process.

In what appears to be a naked bid to undermine an independent hearing, the Northern Gateway pipeline through British Columbia has been dubbed “a national priority.’’

Our immigration system will be overhauled.

A coming budget is now expected to cut even more deeply than first advertised, an exercise which will ultimately affect every Canadian.

Right now, it is Harper versus the interims.

Canada needs a strong opposition at this time, someone to represent the six in 10 Canadians who did not vote Conservative, someone who can take a strong team on the opposite bench and craft a coherent alternative voice for the country.

Interim NDP leader Nycole Turmel may be promising the “fight of her life” against the coming Harper budget, but a string of polls confirms that Canadians are not listening to her.

Hume: Rob Ford’s Toronto can’t keep up

Just a year into his term, three left to go, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is a spent force. His much publicized 320-pound bulk notwithstanding, he seems a husk.

Issue by issue, vote by vote, he has come undone. Whether burying transit or unloading Toronto Hydro, selling public housing or putting together the budget, the Chief Magistrate has become the Main Obstacle.

Despite those all-nighters last year, Ford is a poor listener. Worse still, he isn’t the least bit curious about the larger world, let alone Toronto. His ideas are strongly held but barely formed.

Because he’s incapable of understanding others, Ford has found it hard to be a consensus-builder, which, in a weak-mayor system like Toronto’s, is critical.

Now, Ford has taken to publicly insulting councillors with whom he disagrees, most recently dismissing them as “two steps left of Joe Stalin.” Though some were pleasantly surprised to learn that Ford knew the late Soviet dictator’s name, the comparison was clumsy, not to mention crude.

And so it goes with this mayor. When his normally compliant Toronto Transit Commission chair, Karen Stintz, tries to help the poor man climb out of the hole he has dug himself, quite literally, on the transit file, he reverts to the usual blather about taxpayers.

For the most part, the city carries on regardless. So far, none of the damage inflicted by Ford has been fatal. But as Toronto’s transit situation goes from bad to worse, nothing less than the city’s future is at stake.

Espionage case reveals double standard on secrets

It never ceases to amuse me how the sordid, often mundane world of espionage elicits near orgasmic media coverage. The latest example of this unbridled giddiness comes in the wake of espionage-related charges against a junior Canadian Navy intelligence officer, who enjoyed “top secret” security clearance — truth be told, it’s not a particularly sensitive security classification but you won’t hear that from much of the press — for allegedly feeding hush-hush information apparently to the Russians.

This earned Russia a predictable diplomatic rebuke, as a few of its embassy staff in Ottawa were summarily sent packing. It’s an old, silly pantomime played out again and again by largely ordinary and not so bright people.

Traditionally, intelligence officers (an oxymoron if there ever was one) or spies involved in the intelligence trade “sell out” their countries for a few reasons, usually in this order: money, sex, love and, in rare cases, ideology.

We may or may not learn what motivated this latest so-called betrayal. Word of the officer’s arrest has prompted the usual intelligence experts to trot out the usual apocalyptic pronouncements about how this “scandal” may yet constitute the most grievous and injurious security breach in Canadian history.

Oh, please.

I believe it’s unlikely that a junior intelligence officer would be privy to the kind of secrets that could cost lives or irreparably damage Canada’s strategic alliances.

Stephen Harper: When Parliament Resumes, Prime Minister Will Let Conservative Colours Burst

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper will take a page out of Katy Perry's pop songbook this parliamentary session.

The prime minister will let his Conservative colours burst for really the first time since he came to power in 2006, letting off a few political fireworks by slashing government spending, tinkering with pensions, aggressively promoting Canada's resource sector and promoting a more classic-type of division of powers with the provinces.

The House of Commons resumes Monday after a six-week hiatus.

Harper had been criticized by even some right-wing pundits in the past for not being conservative enough — he raised spending year after year and hesitated to make any major, long-term changes to government policy.

But with a number of old promises fulfilled or about to be — eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, the gun registry and political subsidies, for example — the majority Conservatives are finally free to think big and think blue.

"The priorities remain the same — job creation and economic growth. What we're able to do right now perhaps is focus on more medium and long-term structural changes," Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said in an interview.

"Canada has strong advantages, a very strong fiscal position, the lowest debt of any of the major G8 countries, how do we ensure that we stay in that position?"

Ban Ki-Moon: Africa Leaders Should Respect Gay Rights

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says African nations should stop treating gays as "second-class citizens, or even criminals".

Ban told African leaders that gathered in Ethiopia's capital on Sunday for an African Union summit that discrimination based on sexual orientation "had been ignored or even sanctioned by many states for far too long".

Ban said it would be challenging for Africa to "confront this discrimination". There was no immediate response from African heads of states to Ban's speech. Many African countries outlaw homosexuality and many African churches preach against it.

Original Article
Source: Huff 
Author: - 

Newt Gingrich: Businesses Will Start Creating Jobs On Election Night If Obama Loses

THE VILLAGES, Fla. -- Everyone wants to create jobs. Candidates and politicians propose a mix of tax breaks, government assistance, new legislation and so forth. But for Newt Gingrich, there's a much easier magical formula: just defeat President Barack Obama.

Gingrich held a large outdoor rally Sunday at the retirement community The Villages, attracting die-hard supporters, undecided Republicans and members of the community who simply decided to see what all the commotion was about as they were walking their dogs or going to lunch.

He laid out a startlingly simple plan to create new jobs, saying it would happen as soon as Obama is defeated -- as soon as on election night itself.

"People say to me, 'How fast will things turn around?' Let's talk about jobs. How quickly will people start to invest in new jobs? Late on election night when we defeat Barack Obama, people will start making decisions to create new jobs," he said.

Gingrich is increasingly taking on the Republican establishment, upset at the attacks he has weathered in recent days from backers of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, whose surrogates are attempting to "portray the former speaker as erratic."

Euro crisis, protest movements shape Davos meeting

Europe's crippling debt crisis dominated the world's foremost gathering of business and political leaders, but for the first time the growing inequality between the planet's haves and have-nots became an issue, thanks largely to the Arab Spring uprisings, the Occupy movement and other protests around the globe.

The mood at the end of the five-day meeting in Davos was somber, and more than 2,500 VIPs headed home Sunday concerned about what lies ahead in 2012. Plenty of champagne flowed in this alpine ski resort — but the atmosphere was flat and the bubbling enthusiasm of some past World Economic Forums was noticeably absent.

Despite some guarded optimism about Europe's latest attempts to stem the eurozone crisis, fears remain that turmoil could return and spill over to the rest of the world. And there were no answers to the widening inequality gap, but a mounting realization that economic growth must include the poor, that job creation is critical, and that affordable food, housing, health care and education need to part of any solution.

Just before the forum began, the International Monetary Fund reduced its forecast for global growth in 2012 to 3.3 percent from the 4 percent pace it projected in September. Many other economic forecasters also predict a slowing economy, including New York University's Nouriel Roubini, who is widely acknowledged to have predicted the crash of 2008 and who said he might be “even slightly more bearish” on the new IMF forecast.

Why the American dream could come to an end

It was a chill January day last year when Lucy Berrington and 400 other immigrants from around the world gathered in Boston’s famed Faneuil Hall — the nation’s “cradle of liberty” on the historic “Freedom Trail” — to take an oath and become citizens of the United States.

For many immigrants who come to America to seek a better life, it’s an almost sacred ceremony, “something like being born again,” says Berrington, 42, who came to the U.S. from Britain in 1997.

Despite a wintry New England day, she found “warmth” in the words of the presiding judge, she says.

“It was unexpectedly moving,” observes Berrington, a graduate student at Tufts University, “a lovely thing, really.”

But, she adds candidly, “something seemed off.”

Standing beneath a painting of founding father Samuel Adams and other greats, Berrington was seized by the feeling that she and her new fellow Americans had come to the land of opportunity late.

“I felt I was arriving at the party as it was winding down.”

Harper will show true Conservative stripes in new session of Parliament

OTTAWA - Stephen Harper will take a page out of Katy Perry's pop songbook this parliamentary session.

The prime minister will let his Conservative colours burst for really the first time since he came to power in 2006, letting off a few political fireworks by slashing government spending, tinkering with pensions, aggressively promoting Canada's resource sector and promoting a more classic-type of division of powers with the provinces.

The House of Commons resumes Monday after a six-week hiatus.

Harper had been criticized by even some right-wing pundits in the past for not being conservative enough — he raised spending year after year and hesitated to make any major, long-term changes to government policy.

But with a number of old promises fulfilled or about to be — eliminating the Canadian Wheat Board monopoly, the gun registry and political subsidies, for example — the majority Conservatives are finally free to think big and think blue.

"The priorities remain the same — job creation and economic growth. What we're able to do right now perhaps is focus on more medium and long-term structural changes," Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said in an interview.

"Canada has strong advantages, a very strong fiscal position, the lowest debt of any of the major G8 countries, how do we ensure that we stay in that position?"

Harper's grand plan: What it is and how to fight it

"In the months to come our Government will undertake major transformations to position Canada for growth over the next generation," with these words Stephen Harper has thown down the gauntlet. On Friday, in a grand, sweeping, blustering speech (See Aalya Ahmad on the new swagger), Harper has laid out his vision for the future. It is imperative that we understand it, to fight it.

Much of the mainstream press coverage, the blogosphere and the twitterati have focussed on possible cuts to old age pensions, job lay offs and what this means for an austerity budget come March. Few are paying attention to the full implications of Harper's announcement.

Harper's speech brushes over two areas: (1) job creation and economic stability through corporate tax cuts, free trade agreements, further investments in energy and oil production and cuts to pensions and (2) dealing with 'demographic challenges' by managing immigration. These are all connected and should be scrutinized as such.

Newt Gingrich Responds To Mitt Romney's 'Carpet-Bombing' Ads By Going Nuclear

LUTZ, Fla. -- Newt Gingrich stepped out of church Sunday morning and launched some of his most vitriolic attacks on Mitt Romney to date in the Republican primary, seeking to recover lost ground in the polls two days before primary voting ends here on Tuesday.

"I believe the Republican Party will not nominate a pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro-tax increase moderate from Massachusetts," the former House speaker said.

Gingrich repeated the phrase "pro-abortion, pro gun-control, pro-tax increase" again during a 10-minute gaggle with reporters. He also began Sunday to wrap Romney's ties to Wall Street into his attacks on the former Massachusetts governor.

"They will not nominate somebody who raises millions from Wall Street to run ads that are false," Gingrich said.

"I have had a long record as a very hard-hitting Reagan conservative, and the idea that that record would be deliberately falsified by a Massachusetts moderate using money from Wall Street, from the very companies who have been getting money from the federal government, is really about as big an outrage as I've had in my career," he continued.

Keystone XL Pipeline: Republicans Plan To Tie Jobs Bill To Pipeline Approval

WASHINGTON - Congressional Republicans are refusing to back down in their attempts to win speedy approval of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline, vowing to link approval of the controversial project to a new jobs bill being introduced next week.

"All options are on the table," John Boehner, speaker of the House of Representatives, said Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

"Now that the president has decided for political reasons that we're not going to move ahead just yet, not until after the election … we're going to have to find another way to lean on the Senate, to take this issue up, because the Keystone pipeline will create over 100,000 indirect jobs."

If the Obama administration has not given the green light to the US$7.6 billion pipeline by the time the House examines the so-called American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act, Republicans will add the pipeline approval provision to the bill, he said.

It will be the second time Republicans have attempted to force the hand of President Barack Obama on Keystone XL as they insist the project represents a jobs boon and will help end U.S. reliance on oil from often hostile OPEC regimes.

They successfully inserted a pipeline provision into a temporary payroll tax-cut legislation in late December that imposed a Feb. 21 deadline on the White House for approving the project.

Congressional Democrats largely signed off on the Keystone provision in December because they wanted the tax-cut legislation passed as quickly as possible. They're equally keen for a jobs act to pass Congress soon.

Activists denounce CSIS intimidation tactics that create "climate of fear"

MONTREAL - A group of Montreal activists is denouncing the Canadian Security Intelligence Service for creating a climate of fear and suspicion within their organizations.

The People's Commission, which claims the support of 70 unions and advocacy groups, says CSIS agents use intimidation tactics to pit activists against one another.

Dolores Chew, who works with a South Asian Women's organization in Montreal, says many members have been visited by agents at their homes.

She says new female immigrants are already vulnerable and CSIS tries to take advantage of them.

The People's Commission is calling on activists to avoid talking or listening to CSIS agents if ever they are approached.

The group says the spy agency has recently ramped up efforts against anti-capitalists, First Nations and student groups.

Original Article
Source: winnipeg free press 
Author: The Canadian Press 

PMO hates gays and greens, judges and nurses, aka 'foreign radicals'

Wow! This media AlerteInfoAlert from the Prime Minister's Office is a sight to behold, dear Reader. Do take a moment to thank Kady O'Malley for postponing her book-reading and sleep in order to share it with us. the regina mom is also foregoing some book-reading and sleep to write this. As with her poetry, she's going to take it line-by-line or at least stanza-by-stanza so it may take awhile to find appropriate links and all. She hopes you'll follow along, that you're a brave enough soul to make it to the computer-eye-glazed end.

From: Alerte-Info-Alert Sent: Friday, Jan. 27, 2012 08:45 PM
At 8:45 PM on a Friday night, this goes out to the media. That, in and of itself, is hilarious, is it not? Can you spell, "desperate"?

To: Alerte-Info-Alert Subject: Foreign radicals threaten further delays / Des groupes radicaux étrangers brandissent la menace de retards additionnels Foreign radicals threaten further delays

"Foreign radicals"? Hmm, those foreigners, maybe they have. trm has threatened to delay the northern pipeline project. She has publicly stated that the Northern Gateway Pipeline project will go ahead over her dead body. And if the HarperCons want her dead body that badly, so be it. But trm is filled with gratitude for these "foreign radicals" who are threatening to delay her death. Not yet 50, trm is far too young to die. So, what else does the PMO have to say about these foreign radicals?

Today, Ecojustice attacked the independence of the Northern Gateway Joint Review Panel. ForestEthics, Living Oceans Society and Raincoast Conservation Foundation joined them in their attack on the Joint Review Panel.

*GASP* -- a foreign attack on a Canadian Panel! By four tree-hugging groups! Call in the military! Those plant-loving, ocean living, ethical conservationists, how dare they challenge our panel, eh? Let's have a look-see who they are, those radicals! Ecojustice is a registered charitable organization in Canada. And all such organizations are subject to laws which regulate all charities. trm is certain we can trust that with the HarperCon law and order government, any organization undertaking illegal activity would meet the swift hand of justice. One would expect Ecojustice to know that. After all, they' are "lawyers and scientists." Just because they "believe in leading the way to a sustainable future" by taking the "lead in four key areas: clean water, natural spaces, healthy communities and climate protection" shouldn't mean they don't know how to follow the laws of the land.

Je Speak Inuktitut

The case for mandating aboriginal languages in Canadian public schools.

While the United States and the social democracies of Europe tend to simplify matters by encouraging assimilation of new immigrants, Canada likes to complicate things. We offer plurality and multiculturalism – or, perhaps more accurately, interculturalism. Like an ever-expanding circle, we accommodate, incorporate, and amalgamate other cultures. But what we are less good at is accommodating – and, indeed, understanding – the foundational diversity that makes us unique.

Former prime minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau understood that French and English were more than just two languages spoken in a country – that they were two fundamental elements of a nation. His government’s Official Languages Act of 1969 – which officially made Canada a bilingual country – cemented a cultural reality that had been there all along.

In Ontario, we attempt to honour this reality by mandating French as a Second Language (FSL) in public education (until Grade 9) and offering French Immersion (FI) programs of varying intensity. Language, more than anything, provides access to, and appreciation for, a culture. For Canadians, learning French reinforces a sense that the French culture is part of who we are. It is thus sad when, as a country, Canada downplays the importance of the other non-Anglo foundation of our prosperous nation – Aboriginal Peoples and their cultures.

Locked-out employees of Electro-Motive Diesel in London, Ont., fear the worst

Early Wednesday morning, a mere 24 hours before Caterpillar Inc. knocked it out of the park with its record-breaking fourth quarter revenues and record-breaking fourth quarter profits and record-breaking annual revenues and record-breaking annual profits and anticipated record-breaking performance for 2012, Laurel MacDowell was driving her usual route to the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus. MacDowell, a history professor with U of T’s Centre for Industrial Relations and Human Resources, had tuned in to CBC Radio’s Metro Morning and caught the daily exchange between host Matt Galloway and the show’s business commentator, Michael Hlinka.

The conversation was focused, largely, on the lockout of 481 unionized workers at the Electro-Motive Diesel plant in London, Ont., and Caterpillar’s tabled offer to the workers, which would see a wage collapse of between 43 per cent and 50 per cent for the majority of employees.

Hlinka played the “free market” card — as in, the market will decide what constitutes a competitive wage — leading Galloway to interject that Caterpillar’s offer to workers meant a slashing of wages. In response, Hlinka said this: “Sure, but there are thousands of Canadians who would love to work at that wage. . . The fact is, they’re not worth more.

Mayor Rob Ford had no authority to cancel Transit City, lawyers say

A report by a respected Toronto law firm says Mayor Rob Ford exceeded his legal authority when he cancelled Transit City without city council approval.

Councillor Joe Mihevc, who solicited the legal opinion, will release it publicly on Monday.

It says the mayor had no business entering into a non-binding memorandum of understanding with the province that authorized a new transit plan, including a Sheppard subway and a longer tunnel on the Eglinton light rail line. It says he further overstepped his powers when he told TTC chief general manager Gary Webster to stop work on Transit City.

Since the mayor had no legal authority to enter into the memorandum of understanding, it shouldn’t be acted upon until council approves it, say the lawyers. Until that happens, it is only an agreement in principle.

Mihevc is calling on the mayor and city manager to bring the transit issue before council immediately.

The lawyers’ report comes as a battle is brewing between the mayor’s office and city councillors from across the political spectrum, including Ford allies John Parker and TTC chair Karen Stintz. They disagree with the transit plan the mayor committed to with the province.

Prosperity Mine: Review Underway For Another Environmentally Controversial B.C. Project

WILLIAMS LAKE, B.C. - With all eyes on hearings for the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline that would link Alberta's oil sands to tankers on the B.C. coast, a federal environmental review of another contentious B.C. project is quietly getting underway.

The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency has released guidelines and terms of reference that will form the framework for an environmental review of Taseko Mines Ltd.'s (TSX:TKO) proposed Prosperity gold and copper mine in the B.C. Interior.

The agency is seeking comments on the documents until Feb. 22.

But the approach of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government toward the federal hearings on the Northern Gateway doesn't give First Nations opponents much faith in the environmental review of the mine.

"We feel the writing's on the wall," Chief Joe Alphonse, leader of the Tsilqhot'in National Government, said in an interview.

"Mr. Harper is making statements around the Enbridge project that anyone opposing the project is an enemy of Canada. That's the same situation."

Alphonse said he fears that approval of the Prosperity Mine, 125 kilometres southwest of Williams Lake, B.C., is a foregone conclusion.

Harper’s very political religion

It is wrong to accuse Stephen Harper of mixing church and state just because he wants to promote religious freedom worldwide.

First, church and state are not all that separate in Canada. Why else do you think Ontario taxpayers fund Catholic separate schools? Also, the Charter of Rights recognizes “the supremacy of God.”

Second, freedom of and from religion is a secular principle. A prime minister who promotes it should be commended, not criticized.

It is also unfair to accuse Harper of advancing an evangelical Christian agenda — championing only the cause of Christian minorities abroad.

His game is more nuanced.

His government has spoken on behalf of religious minorities in China, Myanmar and Nigeria. But it has been most vocal about the plight of Christians in Egypt, Iraq and Syria; Christians and Ahmadis in Pakistan; Bahais and Christians in Iran; and Ahmadis in Indonesia.

Most of these groups in Canada have been courted by the Conservatives as part of Jason Kenney’s electoral “ethnic strategy.” Their representatives were invited to the Tory election rally last year at a Coptic Christian church in Mississauga, where Harper promised to champion religious freedoms globally.

Harper's fixes aren't for the long term

Does anyone else find it odd that Stephen Harper should choose to go to a high town in Switzerland to deliver a speech from the Throne?

At least that's the way the prime minister's address to the other movers and shakers of the world at Davos seems to have been perceived by a good chunk of the Canada's news media.

"Harper's Grand Plan" proclaimed one front-page headline. Many others predicted "major changes" are ahead for a lot of us, bad ones for old-age pensioners, the sick, the halt and the lame, and good ones for those who seek to profit from Canada's natural wealth.

Harper sometimes has to try hard to overcome his natural humility. It took a special effort from him to leave Parliament Hill (elevation 70 metres) to climb to Davos (1,560 metres) to deliver his sermon from a more appropriate mount.

It was clear his message was meant for home consumption. Other concerns of world leaders at Davos, such as the Euro rot, seemed hardly worth mentioning.

The Conservative Death Wish

That large smacking sound you hear is the Liberals and NDP licking their lips as Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the Davos Economic Forum discussed reforming the Old Age Security pension, possibly raising the age at which seniors receive the payment to 67.

The Old Age Security only consumes about 2.41 per cent of GDP, much lower than in most countries. In 2031 at the top of the baby boom retirement demographic, the OAS will consume only 3.14 per cent of GDP. That’s a lot of money, but it is not a catastrophe.

So generations of Canadians have been promised pensions under certain conditions and now the ground is being taken out from under them by Harper. Pension reform is just unnecessary yet Harper is not proceeding on logic, but ideology. First Harper caps federal health payments, now he wants to reform promised pensions. The large senior boomer demographic is unlikely to approve.

That allows an opportunity for the Grits and the NDP. “Would you rather have your pensions and health care or a bunch of new fighter jets?” you’ll be able to hear them cry on the hustings.

Harper let ideology triumph over logic in crime legislation. Now he’s doing the same thing with pensions and health care.

Good luck, Prime Minister, in the next election.

Original Article
Source: ottawa citizen 
Author: Ken Gray 

Violent Occupy Oakland protest results in 300 arrests

About 300 people were arrested Saturday during a chaotic day of Occupy protests that saw demonstrators break into City Hall and burn an American flag, as police earlier fired tear gas and bean bags to disperse hundreds of people.

Dozens of police officers remained on guard outside City Hall around midnight following the most turbulent day of protests since November, when Oakland police forcefully dismantled an Occupy encampment. An exasperated Mayor Jean Quan, who faced heavy criticism for the police action last fall, called on the Occupy movement to "stop using Oakland as its playground."

"People in the community and people in the Occupy movement have to stop making excuses for this behaviour," Quan said.

Protesters clashed with police throughout the day, at times throwing rocks, bottles and other objects at officers. And police responded by deploying smoke, tear gas and bean bag rounds, City Administrator Deanna Santanta said.

"These demonstrators stated their intention was to provoke officers and engage in illegal activity and that's exactly what has occurred today," Santana said.

At World Economic Forum, Fear of Global Contagion Dominates

DAVOS, Switzerland -- They came, they feasted on smoked sturgeon and black truffle risotto, drank liquor paid for by global banks, endured dozens of security checks, and tried not to fall down in the snow. They talked about the perilous state of the global economy and the future of capitalism. Then, they headed back to their home countries -- many in chauffeured limousines, some by private jet.

But as the people who run much of the planet wrapped up the annual festival of influence known as the World Economic Forum on Saturday, any sense of achievement was hard to discern. The participants arrived amid elevated unemployment in many economies, worries about government budget deficits, and fears that contagion from a financial crisis in Europe could infect the rest of the world. They went home with all of these worries intact, and perhaps reinforced.

Nouriel Roubini, the economist who -- not for nothing -- is known as "Doctor Doom," noted that world leaders are divided on a great array of crucial issues, from arguments over trade imbalances and currency valuations to the threats posed by Iran and North Korea and the challenge of climate change.

"On all these issues that require international coordination, there is no agreement," he said during a Saturday morning panel. "It's a world of chaos that can lead to potential conflicts."

The Man Behind Gingrich’s Money

The trip to Jordan by a group of United States congressmen was supposed to be a chance for them to meet the newly crowned King Abdullah II. But their tour guide had a more complicated agenda.       

The guide was Sheldon Adelson, a Las Vegas casino magnate who helped underwrite trips to the Middle East to win support for Israel in Congress. On this occasion in 1999, as the lawmakers enjoyed a reception at the Royal Palace in Amman, Mr. Adelson and an aide retreated to a private room with the king.

There, the king listened politely as Mr. Adelson sat on a sofa and paged through his proposal for a gambling resort on the Jordan-Israel border to be called the Red Sea Kingdom.

“This was shortly after his father, King Hussein, died, and he was grateful to me,” Mr. Adelson explained later in court testimony, recalling that he had lent his plane when the ailing monarch sought treatment in the United States. “So they remembered.”

The proposal never went anywhere — Mr. Adelson later said he had feared that a Jewish-owned casino on Arab land “would have been blown to smithereens.” But his impromptu pitch to the Jordanian king highlights the boldness, if not audacity, that has propelled Mr. Adelson into the ranks of the world’s richest men and transformed him into a powerful behind-the-scenes player in American and international politics.

God rules all in 2012 Israel, even the state

Israel: Not what you thought, not what the world thought, not what Israelis imagine themselves to think. Israeli society isn't secular, it isn't liberal and it isn't enlightened.

God exists. Eighty percent of Israeli Jews can't be wrong. And it is precisely for that reason we must say: God protect us from the results of the poll (conducted by the Israel Democracy Institute's Guttman Center for Surveys and the Avi Chai Foundation ). While it is conceivably possible to deal with that burning, wholesale belief in the divine, what do we do with the "You chose us" part? Seventy percent of respondents said they also believed Jews are the Chosen People - and that frightening parameter is only on the rise.

You have to give it to the pollsters. They let the cat out of the bag. To paraphrase the Haaretz advertising slogan from the 1990s - Israel: Not what you thought. Not what the world thought, not what Israelis imagine themselves to think. Israeli society isn't secular, it isn't liberal and it isn't enlightened. Were they permitted to respond freely, it's doubtful that 80 percent of Iranians would say they believed in God; it's doubtful there is any other free nation on the planet, with the possible exception of the Americans, that would produce the same results. But there surely is no other nation on the planet that is so secure in its arrogant certainty that it was selected from all the other nations and raised above them.

The findings of this powerful poll are the most important key to understanding Israeli society and the conduct of its governments. It is the only prism through which it is possible to comprehend the occupation, the racism, the Haredization and the capitulation to the settlers. In our hearts, we think: This is our destiny. If in any enlightened society settlers and the ultra-Orthodox would be treated as marginal, eccentric, messianic groups, the attitude toward them in Israel comes from a very deep place within the "secular" society. If in any enlightened society the occupation stirs protest and revulsion, the attitude to it here is based in a religious belief that justifies all its iniquities.

Allen West To Liberals: Get the Hell Out Of The U.S.

Speaking to a Lincoln Day Dinner in West Palm Beach for the Palm Beach County GOP, Rep. Allen West (R-Fla) fired off a humdinger of a line that within minutes drew recriminations from Democrats on Twitter.

"We need to let President Obama, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, (audience boos) and my dear friend the chairman of the Democrat National Committee, we need to let them know that Florida ain't on the table," West said. "Take your message of equality of achievement, take your message of economic dependency, take your message of enslaving the entrepreneurial will and spirit of the American people somewhere else. You can take it to Europe, you can take it to the bottom of the sea, you can take it to the North Pole, but get the hell out of the United States of America."

Following cheers, West added, "Yeah I said 'hell.'"

Moments after the quote was mentioned on Twitter, former Reid spokesman Jim Manley responded via his own Twitter feed: "Me to allen west. You first asshole."

And they say politics is getting more acrimonious.

Original Article
Source: Huff 
Author: - 

Oakland Police Department Only Weeks Away From Being Placed Into Federal Control

Nearly a decade after the city of Oakland was first threatened with losing control of its police force, Judge Thelton Henderson has severely curtailed the independence of the Oakland Police Department, saying that it could placed under federal receivership as soon as this March.

In 2000, a group rogue of Oakland police officers, calling themselves the "Rough Riders," were found to have planted evidence, used excessive force and falsified police reports. As part of a negotiated settlement three years later, the city was ordered to take 51 specific steps toward reform or else lose operational control of the department. Despite numerous deadline extensions, Oakland has failed to make significant progress on said reforms.

"The court remains in disbelief that Defendants have yet--nine years later--to achieve what they themselves agreed was doable in no more than five years," Henderson wrote in his decision earlier this week.

Henderson's order prevents both department brass as well as embattled Oakland Mayor Jean Quan from making any significant changes--such as granting promotions--without first getting approval from independent monitor Robert Warshaw. Warshaw, a former Drug Enforcement Agency official, has been overseeing the OPD for years; however, his role had solely been in an advisory and reporting capacity.

Occupy Oakland: Police Teargas Protesters, Use Flash Grenades

OAKLAND, Calif. — Police were in the process of arresting about 100 Occupy protesters for failing to disperse Saturday night, hours after officers used tear gas on a rowdy group of demonstrators who threw rocks and flares at them and tore down fences.

Police Sgt. Christopher Bolton said the arrests came after protesters marched through downtown Oakland a little before 8 p.m. Saturday, with some of them entering a YMCA building.

Meanwhile, about 100 police officers surrounded City Hall while others were swept the inside of the building to see if any protesters broke in.

More help from other police agencies was also on the way, with busloads of Alameda County sheriff's deputies arriving in the downtown area late Saturday.

The nighttime arrests came after 19 people were taken into custody in Occupy Oakland protests hours earlier.

First the powwow – now what?

The Prime Minister and the chiefs of Canada's first nations left on Tuesday from their first meeting in six years with symbolic gifts and expressions of goodwill. The only stated objective of the gathering had been to ‘reset the relationship,' which has deteriorated over centuries of misunderstandings and broken promises. As Gloria Galloway reports, the stakes are high for everyone involved

Stakes for Shawn Atleo

Shawn Atleo, the soft-spoken and cerebral man who has led the Assembly of First Nations for three years, has only just begun his efforts to improve the quality of education on reserves, where a mere 40 per cent of students nationally are graduating from high school.

If he intends to run again and keep his job for another three years, he must survive a vote of 663 chiefs at a convention in July. Mr. Atleo's chances of winning that election are probably no better now than they were going into the Tuesday meeting. There are factions within the AFN who would like to see him replaced.

But a complete failure at the meeting could have caused serious damage to any re-election bid. And, with preliminary expectations set low, Mr. Atleo cannot be said to have failed.

The chiefs arriving from across Canada were infuriated to learn that Prime Minister Stephen Harper planned to be in the summit room for just a small portion of the full-day event.

Sensing catastrophe, Mr. Atleo persuaded Mr. Harper to meet 30 chiefs at a hastily organized roundtable late Monday afternoon and then urged him to stay at the following day's gathering for as long as possible, as a demonstration of his commitment to the first nations.

The Prime Minister, a man not given to changes of plan, altered his schedule and remained at the Tuesday meeting until the closing prayer.

Some chiefs will interpret that as further proof that Mr. Atleo is too close to Mr. Harper.

But there had been threats of a first-nations walkout if the Prime Minister departed too soon. Mr. Atleo's powers of persuasion prevented the conference from collapse – something that could have irreparably damaged the relationship with the government that he says needs to be reset.