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.]

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cyprus won’t leave EU; levy on large accounts could be bigger than expected

NICOSIA, CYPRUS—Cyprus may face years of economic recession after the destruction of the island’s banking system but President Nicos Anastasiades has vowed his country will not leave the European Union.

In a speech to civil servants in the capital of Nicosia on Friday, Anastasiades reiterated his commitment to remain in the EU, despite his government’s bitterness over what they feel is an imposed brutal deal to save their state.

Money still flows out of ‘have-not’ Ontario

Over the coming weeks, Canadians will turn their attention to a familiar rite of spring — filing their taxes. Meanwhile, federal and provincial governments are undertaking their own annual ritual — presenting budgets that outline how those tax dollars will be spent.

In Canada, it can be dizzying to track the relationship between the taxes sent from one province’s residents to the federal government and what is ultimately returned in federal spending in the province. Our own analysis shows that this exercise results in a net transfer away from Ontario amounting to approximately $11 billion per year, based on the latest available figures.

Congratulations, America: Congress Has Finally Outsourced Itself

The prospects for comprehensive immigration reform got a bit brighter today, as U.S. business and labor groups reportedly drew closer to an agreement on how to structure a guest worker program aimed at low-skill immigrants. According to the New York Times, the potential accord between the Chamber of Commerce and the AFL-CIO would "clear one of the last hurdles" standing in the way of a bipartisan Senate bill.

Gangster Bankers: Too Big to Jail

How HSBC hooked up with drug traffickers and terrorists. And got away with it

The deal was announced quietly, just before the holidays, almost like the government was hoping people were too busy hanging stockings by the fireplace to notice. Flooring politicians, lawyers and investigators all over the world, the U.S. Justice Department granted a total walk to executives of the British-based bank HSBC for the largest drug-and-terrorism money-laundering case ever. Yes, they issued a fine – $1.9 billion, or about five weeks' profit – but they didn't extract so much as one dollar or one day in jail from any individual, despite a decade of stupefying abuses.

Cruel and Unusual Punishment: The Shame of Three Strikes Laws

While Wall Street crooks walk, thousands sit in California prisons for life over crimes as trivial as stealing socks.

On July 15th, 1995, in the quiet Southern California city of Whittier, a 33-year-old black man named Curtis Wilkerson got up from a booth at McDonald's, walked into a nearby mall and, within the space of two hours, turned himself into the unluckiest man on Earth. "I was supposed to be waiting there while my girlfriend was at the beauty salon," he says.

Retired professor wants apology after being bashed by police during tuition protest

Retired professor Charles Castonguay had good reason to take part in a student protest in Gatineau last April 19 over proposed tuition hikes for Quebec universities.

Castonguay, who has many issues with the province’s education system, opposed the hikes and even argues that university should be free, at least until the first undergraduate degree.

Not long after he got there that morning, Castonguay found himself on his back after he was knocked down by riot police. The incident still angers him, he says, because it was unnecessary. Here he was, says Castonguay, an elderly man of 72, being bashed to the ground with a riot shield because he was standing a couple of feet within the perimeter of where police were moving forward.

Sequester Cuts Trickle Down From The Middle Class

SUFFOLK, Va. -- The kitchen floor is curling up at Carol Rood's house. She and her partner removed the edging when they redid the cabinets last year, and now there's nothing to hold down the white-and-green linoleum where it meets the walls.

"This floor is nasty," Rood, 47, said during an interview in her kitchen. "That was the plan this year, was to do the floor. That's not happening now."

Bedroom Tax Protests Take Place Around The UK

Thousands of people around the country have protested against the so-called "bedroom tax", which will cut the benefit of social housing tenants with a spare room.

Campaigners, who have gathered in more than 50 towns, said the move targets the most vulnerable in society, including carers and the disabled.

NCR: Why Richard Kachkar Didn't Get Away With Murder

Richard Kachkar's not criminally responsible verdict has divided observers and is fueling the debate on Bill C-54, the bill to make NCR reviews more restrictive.

There are those who feel that the NCR decision was the right, though imperfect one.

And there are those who are angered by the verdict. They feel that justice was not done, that the jury was duped, and worst of all, that Kachkar's life is going to be spared while that of his victim was not.

To them, a finding of "not criminally responsible" is equal to a full acquittal, a get-out-of-jail free card, a verdict of no repercussions for Kachkar and his actions.

Massive Louisiana sinkhole caused by oil industry just keeps on growing

A sinkhole triggered in Louisiana by the fossil fuel industry grew to 12 acres over the weekend, and it appears that hundreds of displaced nearby residents will never be able to return to their homes.

The sinkhole has been growing since it appeared in August. It was caused by a salt mining operation that sucked brine out from beneath the Assumption Parish marsh and piped it to nearby petrochemical facilities. Houston-based Texas Brine had apparently excavated too close to the surface, and officials are worried that a similar fate could befall another Texas Brine salt mining site nearby.

Fusion center director: We don’t spy on Americans, just anti-government Americans

Law enforcement intelligence-processing fusion centers have long come under attack for spying on Americans. The Arkansas director wanted to clarify the truth: centers only spies on some Americans – those who appear to be a threat to the government.

In trying to clear up the ‘misconceptions’ about the conduct of fusion centers, Arkansas State Fusion Center Director Richard Davis simply confirmed Americans’ fears: the center does in fact spy on Americans – but only on those who are suspected to be ‘anti-government’.

Obama must be thinking he has better things to do than tend to 166 Arabs stuck in Gitmo

Obama, the one person with the authority to shut down Guantanamo, lacks the political will to put the issue at the top of his priorities, Thomas Wilner, an attorney representing Gitmo inmates, told RT.

RT: Why do you think the White House isn’t getting more involved here, it seems reluctant to put a stop to this?

Thomas Wilner: The White House has said that it is still interested in closing the Guantanamo but it has delegated the issue to other people. It has also thrown up its hands and said Congress is stopping us from doing anything. I think that is wrong. I think the White House has to get directly involved.

Armed Correlations

Well, to paraphrase a great Republican, here we go again. The details of Adam Lanza’s home environment—the armory of weapons there, the copy of the “NRA Guide to the Basics of Pistol Shooting,” there was a useful book kept close—are scarcely out before the insistence that there’s nothing, absolutely nothing, to see or to do returns, at a higher volume. The President talks, in his calm and conciliatory tones, about minimal gun control—that there’s no threat to responsible gun owners, just common sense—and gets, in return, no response, no counterproposal at all, just the usual toxic cocktail of fatalism and scorn. And he gets contemptuous references to his merely “emotional appeals” on the issue, to his talk, on Thursday, of “shame on us.” As though the horror of children ripped apart by a hundred and fifty-four bullets fired in less than five minutes is not itself rational evidence for change, as though unbearable parental grief is not itself an argument for altering the circumstance that made the mourning happen.

Buddy Collins Nominated To Plum North Carolina Education Post, Despite Anti-Gay Record

WASHINGTON -- One of North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's (R) nominees for the State Board of Education has a long history of opposing anti-bullying measures aimed at protecting LGBT students, and gay rights advocates are worried about the implications if he is confirmed.

A. L. "Buddy" Collins is an attorney and a longtime member of the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County School Board of Education. He has clashed with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) over the years surrounding the group's efforts to stop bullying on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

James Inhofe 'Proud' To Be A Target In Climate Change Documentary

Sen. James Inhofe is taking criticism of his climate change denial as a compliment.

The Oklahoma Republican is one of the central targets in the newly released climate change documentary "Greedy Lying Bastards," which examines attempts by the fossil fuel industry to thwart emissions standards and mispresent the facts in the face of changing global climate conditions. The film airs Friday at a special screening in Tulsa, Okla.

Conservatives pour $6.4 billion into corporate welfare

IF there was a theme in the recent federal budget, it was how chock full it was with new corporate welfare. The underlying refrain was how big government will help big business with your tax dollars.

For example, early on in Budget 2013, it is clear that crony capitalism is scattered throughout. On Page 6, Ottawa promises $1-billion to the aerospace sector over five years through the Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative; that's the main government program for disbursing taxpayer cash to the aerospace sector.

Desertification group laments losing Canada

OTTAWA -- The United Nations said Friday it is "regrettable" Canada will withdraw from a UN convention that fights the spread of droughts.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said Canada was withdrawing from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification because the program has proven too bureaucratic and not worth the $350,000 contributed each year.

The decision would make Canada the only country in the world not part of the convention.

"The convention is stronger than ever before, which makes Canada's decision to withdraw from the convention all the more regrettable," the Bonn-based secretariat for the convention said in a statement Friday.

A glimpse behind the curtain that hides the Harper Conservatives: Are plans afoot to kill the CBC?

Are plans afoot to destroy the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation if the Harper Conservatives get their longed-for majority?

A tantalizing hint by Edmonton-St. Albert Conservative Member of Parliament Brent Rathgeber at an all-candidates' meeting Thursday evening in this Edmonton dormitory city of 60,000 suggests this may be so.

"I don't know that we need a national broadcaster in 2011," Rathgeber told about 100 people at a Chamber of Commerce all-candidates' forum in a local hotel. "…We have to wean them off … of the taxpayer's dollar…"

Remembering Ralph Klein: Discussing union bargaining styles over the proverbial drink with the premier

The scene: Just before Christmas 2001 at the Legislative Press Gallery's Holiday "Gala," a conversation takes place amidst of a swirl of intoxicated journalists, politicians, public relations flacks, lobbyists and other political hangers on.

The cast: Ralph Klein, premier of Alberta, clearly feeling no pain; your blogger, only on his second beer, then the PR guy for the Alberta Union of Provincial Employees, the provincial civil service workers' union; and Peter Elzinga, Klein's chief of staff.

Offstage but nearby, Larry Booi, president of the Alberta Teachers Association, then in an increasingly snarly round of negotiations with Klein's government. Dan "Buff" MacLennan, the affable jail guard who was president of the civil servants' union.

Hunger strike continues at U.S. Guantanamo prison

Prisoners on hunger strike in Guantanamo Bay are now being denied water among other abuses as prison guards attempt to force them off the strike, the prisoners' lawyers said Wednesday.

Several of the prisoners' lawyers have filed an emergency motion in a federal court in Washington saying guards are refusing to provide drinking water to the hunger strikers and have kept camp temperatures "extremely frigid" in an effort to "to thwart the protest."

'Pipeline Company Bullies'

On February 28th Dave Core gave an impassioned presentation about "pipeline company bullies" before the Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources.

The media were not there.

But the 58-year-old farmer and landowner, an expert on pipeline regulation, directly contradicted the testimony of National Energy Board (NEB) chairman Gaétan Caron as well as that of Mark Cory, Assistant Deputy Minister of Natural Resources Canada.

Why the crisis in Cyprus matters to the rest of us

The crisis in Cyprus is about more than just Cyprus. It is about Europe as a whole and through Europe, the world economy.

More specifically, it is about the euro, the common currency of 17 nations including Cyprus.

That the crisis has hit Cypriots hard is undeniable. Jobs have been destroyed. Currency is scarce. There are limits on how much money individuals can take from their bank accounts (if these bank accounts still exist). There are limits on how much capital can be taken from the country.

Star investigation: Ottawa refuses to say whether drug-tainted horse meat entered food chain

Backstreet Bully was unloaded from a trailer after dawn and led by his halter into an abattoir in rural Quebec. Once owned and raced by Magna’s Frank Stronach, the chestnut thoroughbred was to be slaughtered then packaged for human food.

That same January morning earlier this year, frantic phone calls from the Stronach group tried to save Backstreet Bully’s life — and protect the public from eating toxic meat.

Federal environment policy may not be helping the oilpatch

You don’t have to fit yourself out for a tinfoil hat to convince yourself that the federal Conservatives are taking their marching orders from the oil industry.

Stephen Harper’s political consciousness was formed at the University of Calgary in the early 1980s, when Albertans were rightly furious with the federal government for imposing the disastrous National Energy Program.

Gunmakers Being Urged To Move Across State Lines To Dodge Restrictive Gun Laws

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Firearms manufacturers upset over newly restrictive gun laws and proposals in their home states are getting a message from other places: Move here, where the climate is favorable to your products and so are the tax codes.

In New Hampshire, a group of conservative Republicans sent letters wooing gun companies. Politicians in Virginia and West Virginia have said they would welcome Beretta if it chose to leave Maryland. Alaska House Speaker Mike Chenault, in a letter to the head of Magpul Industries this week, said he read "with shock and disdain" reports of new gun laws in Colorado, the home of the firearms accessory and magazine manufacturer. "Though many feel the actions taken by your state government were appropriate," he wrote, "we in Alaska do not."

North Korea Reportedly Entering 'State Of War' Against South Korea

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea warned Seoul on Saturday that the Korean Peninsula had entered "a state of war" and threatened to shut down a border factory complex that's the last major symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Analysts say a full-scale conflict is extremely unlikely, noting that the Korean Peninsula has remained in a technical state of war for 60 years. But the North's continued threats toward Seoul and Washington, including a vow to launch a nuclear strike, have raised worries that a misjudgment between the sides could lead to a clash.

US warns North Korea of increased isolation if threats escalate further

The White House warned North Korea on Friday that the rapidly escalating military confrontation would lead to further isolation, as the Pentagon declared that the US was fully capable of defending itself and its allies against a missile attack.

After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared that rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the Pacific – a response to the US flying two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula this week – the White House blamed Pyongyang for the increased tensions.

It's Not a Hermit Kingdom, and 4 Other Myths About North Korea

Every day the media is filled with reports of North Korea threatening to attack the United States and its close allies. An escalating cycle of threat and counter-threat has been going on for the past few months. It started with the North's partially successful long-range rocket test in December, was followed by its third test of a nuclear bomb in February, new U.N. sanctions in response to those tests, U.S.-South Korean military exercises, Pyongyang's bellicose threats to launch strikes against the United States, and now the temporary deployment of long-range U.S. B-2 bombers, capable of carrying nuclear weapons, to South Korea.

Jobs Act falls short of grand promises

When lawmakers unveiled the carefully named Jobs Act a year ago, backers expected it to get caught up in the typical grind of Capitol Hill: vigorous debate followed by a long wait for a vote that might never happen.

Instead, the legislation sailed through — perhaps too fast. Even supporters say they expected more time to work out the kinks in the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act, which aimed to help small, private firms raise money and grow so they could hire more workers.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Judge Dismisses Most Claims In Libor Lawsuits, Ruling In Favor Of Big Banks

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Judge on Friday dismissed a "substantial portion" of claims facing a number of banks in a barrage of lawsuits accusing them of interest-rate rigging.

U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan ruled for the banks, which include Bank of America Corp , JPMorgan Chase & Co and others of allegedly manipulating the London Interbank Offered Rate, commonly known as Libor.

The judge granted the banks' motion to dismiss the plaintiffs' federal antitrust claims and partially dismissed their claims of commodities manipulation. She also dismissed racketeering and state-law claims.

Original Article
Author: Reuters

The Korean Crisis: Kim’s Dangerous Game

Because we do not generally associate the Russian political class with under statement, it was easy to miss Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov’s observation, this week, that things in North Korea could potentially “descend into the spiral of a vicious cycle.” If the Russians—who have vastly more knowledge of the new North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, than we do—are concerned that things are about to get worse, we should brace for a long spring.

The crisis on the Korean peninsula has descended so steadily, amid so many other hot zones competing for attention, and with such a sense of déjà vu about it, that it’s easy to lose sight of how North Korea’s threats to the United States and South Korea are now being made, as Scott Snyder of the Council on Foreign Relations put it, on “unprecedented levels and with greater intensity than ever before.” It is now at its most acute moment in years.

Nuclear Power Flood Risk: NRC Insiders Say Agency Continues To Look The Other Way

According to findings made public earlier this month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently uncovered potentially significant flooding vulnerabilities at two Tennessee nuclear power plants and, after a thorough investigation, the agency aggressively sanctioned the errant operator for several safety violations -- although the facilities were permitted to continue operating.

Mike Lee: Background Checks Like Letting Government Know What You Ate For Breakfast

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) likened universal background checks for gun purchases Friday to letting the government access what Americans eat for breakfast or how often they go to church.

"The concern with those is that background checks in and of themselves aren’t going to work unless they are accompanied by some sort of registration system," Lee said during an appearance on Fox News. "But the American people when asked about that are far less comfortable."

The Right Leans In

The mood at the beginning of the meeting matched the weather: gray and dreary. The warm-up speaker told a joke about how local Republicans could merit placement on the endangered species list, which met with polite laughter. Talk of the most recent presidential election elicited audible groans.

Days after Barack Obama took the oath of office for his second term, about 400 GOP donors gathered in a downtown San Francisco hotel to hear Jim DeMint—who had just resigned from the Senate to take a $1-million-a-year job as head of the Heritage Foundation—explain the way forward.

Shocking Rahm's Shock Doctrine

One thousand Chicago Public School teachers and their supporters, including this correspondent, packed Daley Plaza in forty-degree temperatures on Wednesday for a rally protesting the city’s announced plans to close 54 kindergarten-through-eighth-grade schools next year. One-tenth of the protesters were detained and ticketed (though police originally said they had been “arrested”) at a sit-in in front of school board headquarters a few blocks to the south. What they are protesting is genuine shock-doctrine stuff—an announcement utterly rewiring a major urban institution via public rationales swaddled in utter bad faith, handed down in a blinding flash, absent any reasonable due process. Though Mayor Emanuel is learning that the forces of grassroots democracy can shock back too. And boy, does he have it coming.

Canada's Palestine Aid: John Baird Makes No Promises To Renew $300 Million Commitment

OTTAWA - Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird will be arriving in the Middle East today for a 10 day visit.

He'll start in Jordan where he`ll meet this weekend with King Abdullah and Jordan`s foreign minister before moving on to the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Cyprus and Israel.

He also plans to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad where aid to the Palestinians will be a major topic.

I Stand Behind My Tweet Comparing Canada To North Korea

This is a larger, more esoteric blog than merely defending my use of North Korea and Canada in the same sentence. But, okay, I am also defending my use of North Korea and Canada in the same sentence.

Some of the Twitter comment reminded me of something one of my high school teachers told me when I saw her decades later. She said, "I don't get students like you anymore." To which I demurred, insisting students were just as bright now surely. And she tried to explain, "No, I get bright students. They just do not understand irony. I have to explain everything. They are overly literal."

Bee Deaths From Colony Collapse Disorder On The Rise As Researchers Point To Pesticides

Honeybee deaths are on the rise across the world, and researchers are working to find the cause. With as many as 40 or 50 percent of commercial U.S. bee hives lost to colony collapse disorder, according to the New York Times, scientists are eyeing a relatively new class of pesticides as a likely culprit.

Neonicotinoids, which are chemically similar to nicotine, have already been shown to interfere with bees' capacity to learn scents, hampering their efforts to collect food.

Iffy emails key to ACOA inquiry

OTTAWA — Eyebrow-raising emails played a key role in the investigation of Kevin MacAdam’s appointment at the Atlantic Canada Opportunity Agency.

Internal ACOA emails made references to special “issues” and “sensitivities” around the hiring of MacAdam, a Conservative staffer.

They also referred to untraceable BlackBerry messages, Public Service Commission investigators found.

York Federation of Students passes divestment resolution against Israel

On March 21, 2013 I was waiting outside the campus restaurant's dance hall at York University. It had been converted into a York Federation of Students meeting room when the originally planned room in the Students Centre reached full capacity. There were at least a few hundred York University undergraduate students attending the meeting on a windy, snowy day at the Keele Campus.

I'm not an undergrad student which is why I had to wait outside the enormous makeshift meeting room, only able to see two large crowds sitting across from one another with Israeli flags and red and white keffiyahs.

Ten intriguing facts about income inequality, unionization and labour rights

Unions are greedy. Unions destroy the economy by prompting companies to move overseas and driving up public debt with their exorbitant salary demands. Unions just want to take as much of the pie as they can get for their members, leaving less for everyone else. So the story goes, if you're a crass free market fundamentalist or, say, a Sun News pundit.

But that narrative is completely backwards, according to most labour rights advocates. And increasingly, they're being backed up by empirical research that suggests strong unions are essential for evenly spreading the benefits of economic growth across all income classes. Some of that research is summed up in a report released this week by the Canadian Foundation for Labour rights titled "How the Ability of Labour Unions to Reduce Income Inequality and Influence Public Policy has been affected by Regressive Labour Laws."

Alberta's Top Judge to Hear High Profile Fracking Case

Alberta's top judge will be the new case manager for a celebrated multi-million lawsuit on the groundwater impacts of shallow hydraulic fracturing by scientist Jessica Ernst against Encana and Alberta regulators.

Chief Justice Neil Wittmann volunteered to take over the case after the Harper government promoted Honourable Barbara L. Veldhuis, a Court of Queen's Bench judge presiding over the landmark case, to the Court of Appeal of Alberta last month.

Fixing BC's Outdated Mining Laws

[Editor's note: British Columbia's economy is growing. Much of that growth rests on expanded resource industries. Yet our laws designed to protect the unparalleled beauty and richness of the B.C. environment have been weakened, both federally and provincially, over the past decade. Over the next few weeks, this Tyee special series in cooperation with the Environmental Law Centre at the University of Victoria, will reveal what B.C.'s leading experts in environmental law say most needs to be fixed, and their specific suggestions for change. To read all their recommendations, download the free electronic publication "Maintaining Natural British Columbia for Our Children: Selected Law Reform Proposals." Today: the need for development planning.]

BC's Real Social Housing Numbers

One of the more contentious issues regarding the B.C. government's record concerns the issue of social housing. To hear Minister Rich Coleman tell it, B.C.'s record has been above and beyond. For the last few years, barely a week has gone by without a government news release (sometimes multiple per week) trumpeting a new housing initiative.

Yet many housing and homelessness activists insist the need for low income housing outstrips new supply, and even the most astute observers of the housing file find it difficult to determine which government announcements are new and which are recycled; which deal with actual new housing, and which merely capture conversions of one kind of housing into another. Much of the time, tracking the housing file feels akin to watching a talented sidewalk magician asking us to follow which shell has the ball.

Hospital parking rates a 'tax' on sick Canadians

Rising hospital parking rates amount to a tax on ailing Canadians, says one medical specialist.

A CBC Marketplace report found many Canadians are missing hospital appointments and experiencing added stress due to the costs of parking at their local health centre.

Rob Ford: Mayor cancels meeting with Toronto Catholic board to discuss his coaching future

Mayor Rob Ford cancelled a Thursday meeting crucial to his fate as coach of the Don Bosco Eagles high school football team.

Ford’s office called the Toronto Catholic District School Board Wednesday to postpone the meeting with education director Bruce Rodrigues that is to be the final step in the board’s review of Ford’s coaching future.

The school board is examining a Sun interview in which Ford made disparaging comments about the school community that have been called inaccurate by the board, parent council members, teachers and even one of Ford’s assistant coaches. The mayor asserted that Don Bosco players come from “broken homes” and would be dead or in jail if not for football.

Mayor Rob Ford will attend Pride flag-raising, says Doug Ford

Mayor Rob Ford will attend the rainbow flag-raising at City Hall that kicks off Toronto’s Pride Week, his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, told a Ryerson University law class Thursday afternoon.

If he does, it would be the first official Pride event the mayor has attended since his election in 2010.

As he did in a surprise appearance last year, the mayor will also go to the flag-raising at City Hall that marks the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia on May 17, Doug Ford said.

Stephen Harper’s PR obsession is fostering paranoia and paralysis in public service

Nobody should feel bad for the reporters in the parliamentary press gallery.

During the day, we do interesting work in beautiful buildings, and in the evenings we can guzzle free wine at receptions — although, admittedly, too often it is watery Ontario red.

But as good as we have it, in a way these days we are like frogs in a pot of water on top of a stove. The water is getting warmer and we haven’t really noticed.

Good idea for Canada? How Norway captures oil revenues to benefit Norwegians

Canada is one of the only jurisdictions in the world that allows private, foreign ownership of public oil resources. Norway has held more tightly to its public resources. With a world-class pension fund delivered by oil and gas revenues, it has mastered the balance between its oil and gas industry and its national interests. Now as debates heat up over Canada's oil sands and its economy, critics are calling on Harper's Tory government to learn from Norway's success story.

Norway’s Example of Oil and Gas Boom Done Right

In the pretty harbor city of Stavanger, on Norway’s North sea coast, the seagulls are screeching high above the town square adjacent to a sparkling blue fjord. Here, it’s easy to get a glimpse of the country’s hardscrabble economic past and its booming present day spectacular wealth.

This harbor used to be lined with herring canneries, dozens of them. Piers Croker, the curator of the Norway Canning Museum, says it was the lifeblood of Stavanger.

Local Filipino Canadian magazine editor resigns, citing potential Tory influence on magazine

The former editor of English-language magazine Filipino Canadian magazine Living Today, resigned last week over his publisher's membership in the Conservative Party.

Editor and investigative reporter Yul Baritugo said that his publisher's membership in the Conservative Party would no longer make the magazine an impartial and non-partisan medium.

In the 'Publisher's Note' on the magazine's third page, Reyfort Media Group CEO Reyfort Fortaleza explains his membership in his piece, titled: “Why I joined the Conservative Party”.

Girl, Aged 14, Raped On Double Decker Bus After Shopping Trip In Glasgow

A teenage girl has been raped by two men on a double decker bus as she left a shopping centre with her friend.

The 14-year-old was attacked on the top deck of the 57 bus as it left Silverburn shopping centre in Pollok, Glasgow, at about 10.30pm on Friday.

UCU 'Not Anti-Semitic' Tribunal Rules After Case By Academic Friends Of Israel Campaigner Ronnie Fraser

An academic has lost his case against the Universities and Colleges Union, which he alleged is anti-Semitic, with the furious tribunal slamming those who brought the case as having "a worrying disregard for pluralism, tolerance and freedom of expression."

Ronnie Fraser, founding director of Academic Friends of Israel, an organisation which the judge said "consists of him, his wife and a computer", had argued that the UCU was institutionally anti-Semitic because it had voted to boycott Israel.

Is Steven A. Cohen Buying Off the U.S. Government?

Most scandals involving the cozy relationship between Wall Street and its regulators play out behind closed doors. Others happen in plain view, and this is one of the latter. In a Manhattan courtroom Thursday, a federal judge held a hearing on whether to approve a legal settlement in which Steven A. Cohen, one of the richest and most publicity-shy men in the country, appears to be buying off the U.S. government, which for years has been investigating wrongdoing in and around his hedge fund, SAC Capital Advisers.

Unless the judge, Victor Marrero, rejects the settlement between the Securities and Exchange Commission and SAC, which was announced a couple of weeks ago, Cohen will be free to go about his business, which has long been clouded by suspicions of insider trading, once he writes a check of six hundred and sixteen million dollars to the Securities and Exchange Commission. There will be no further sanctions and no admission of wrongdoing. And in fact, Cohen already appears to be celebrating. According to a report in the Times, he has just purchased a Picasso painting, “Le Rêve,” for a hundred and fifty-five million dollars, and an ocean-front mansion in East Hampton, for sixty million dollars.

Eunice Jasica Claims KFC Franchise Reneged Job Offer Because She Is Homeless: Report

A Mississippi woman is claiming she was refused a job she was promised at a KFC franchise because she’s homeless.

Eunice Jasica was hired by a Tupelo, Mississippi, KFC to do “prep work,” according to a document signed by the location’s general manager she reportedly showed to the Clarion-Ledger. But when she came up to pick up her uniform, Jasica says she was told she didn’t have a job.

West Virginia House Of Delegates Calls For Citizens United Constitutional Amendment

The Democratic-controlled West Virginia House of Delegates voted Thursday to call on Congress to enact a constitutional amendment overturning the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

The resolution, which passed 60-39, asks for Congress to draft a constitutional amendment which would allow for corporations to be regulated in terms of how much money they could donate and spend on behalf of political candidates, The State-Journal reported. In 2010, the Supreme Court ruled that corporations could not be regulated on campaign spending, deeming that they were covered under the First Amendment to freedom of speech when it came to campaign donations. A number of Democratic lawmakers and others have been seeking to overturn the decision.

North Korea Missile Activity: South Korea Reportedly Detects Increased Movement At Rocket Sites

Following a report that North Korea was placing its rocket units on standby to attack U.S. military bases, South Korea's Yonhap news agency announced that South Korea had detected increased activity at the north's missile sites.

Kim signed the order at a meeting of top generals and said the time had come to "settle accounts" with the U.S., the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Yonhap quoted a military source as saying, "Sharply increased movements of vehicles and soldiers have been detected recently at North Korea's mid- and long-range missile sites."

On Thursday, the U.S. flew two stealth bombers on practice runs over South Korea, showing force after several threats by North Korea. Swiftly thereafter, KCNA reported that Kim had "finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea."

Original Article
Author: -

Amazon Acquires Goodreads: World's Biggest Online Retailer Acquires Beloved Book Site

Amazon is buying the web's largest online books community Goodreads, it was announced yesterday. Details of the purchase weren't revealed, but Forbes columnist Jeff Bercovici said that it was "likely to have been in the low eight digits."

Made in the USA? Letter From London

One day, when the queen is dead and Dickens is passing an irrelevant anniversary and the approach of an Olympic Games is consuming funds and space in some other world city, historians engaged in recovering the spirit of London during its greatest post-imperial moment of chauvinism and triumphalism will have no richer resource than the Evening Standard. A tabloid-format newspaper, the Standard—as it’s usually known—has existed in various forms for nearly two centuries, and continues to exert an influence. Ken Livingstone, in his recent memoir You Can’t Say That, suggests that his years in charge of the Greater London Council and, later, the Greater London Assembly (the mayoralty) would have been smooth sailing if it weren’t for the Standard, whose owners, the aristocratic Rothermere family, detested his socialist politics. At the beginning of 2009, soon after the mop-haired, fist-raising Conservative Boris Johnson, with Standard backing, displaced Livingstone as mayor, the Rothermeres sold the paper. The timing might have looked convenient—that is, suspicious—though annual losses as high as £25 million might also have influenced the decision to sell.