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.]

Monday, April 15, 2013

FBI shows up at teenager's home to ask about his Ron Paul school report

A 16-year-old high school student’s video report for his American Government class earned him an A+ from his teacher. It also yielded a visit from the FBI.

Justin Hallman says that a project he put together for school that included information on the National Defense Authorization Act, Rep. Ron Paul, Anonymous and the Occupy Wall Street movement was well received in the classroom, but wasn’t exactly praised by others. After agents with the Federal Bureau of Investigation saw a copy of Hallman’s finished work on YouTube, they paid a visit to his own home.

The Antisocial Network

Bitcoin’s wild ride may not have been the biggest business story of the past few weeks, but it was surely the most entertaining. Over the course of less than two weeks the price of the “digital currency” more than tripled. Then it fell more than 50 percent in a few hours. Suddenly, it felt as if we were back in the dot-com era.

The economic significance of this roller coaster was basically nil. But the furor over bitcoin was a useful lesson in the ways people misunderstand money — and in particular how they are misled by the desire to divorce the value of money from the society it serves.

Rob Woodall: Mitt Romney Was Right About '47 Percent' Statistic

At a Georgia town hall meeting in March, Rep. Rob Woodall (R-Ga.) said Mitt Romney was correct in his infamous "47 percent" statistic, adding that Americans need to pay taxes to participate in the political process.

"You know, folks mock Mitt Romney for what he said, but he’s right. Forty-seven percent of American citizens pay zero in income taxes. It’s just true," Woodall said, according to remarks recorded by Georgia Fair Share.

USAID's Dubious Allies in Paraguay

In the usually tranquil streets of Asunción, the capital of Paraguay, there is a growing sense of unease. The death of retired general and presidential candidate Lino Oviedo in February, in a suspicious helicopter crash, has heightened the tension marking an already fraught transition following the impeachment of the left-leaning President Fernando Lugo last June. On city walls, graffiti demands an answer to the question "Que pasó en Curuguaty?"—the rallying cry at a protest of 5,000 people last December, which refers to the rural border region where a clash between police forces and landless peasants culminated in the death of seventeen people (eleven civilians and six policemen) last year. The tragedy, which took place just one week before Lugo's impeachment, was seized upon by his opponents, who pushed for his ouster on the grounds that the president had fomented "the fight between rich and poor" by holding talks with peasant leaders. As Paraguay prepares to elect a new president on April 21, a growing number of citizens believe that answering the question of what happened in Curuguaty is the key to the truth behind Lugo's impeachment.

Offshore Tax Shelters: Some Wealthy Canadians Come Clean After Tax Haven Lists Emerge

OTTAWA - Wealthy Canadians with money stashed overseas have come forward in droves to confess their misdeeds after secret lists began circulating with the names of people apparently evading taxes in foreign banking havens.

The Canada Revenue Agency has seen the number of voluntary disclosures of foreign, unreported income rise dramatically since 2007, when it received the first such list from Liechtenstein naming 106 Canadians with accounts in secretive banks there.

Men's Rights Movement Sees Resurgence Among Millennial Males

It’s mid-November at the University of Toronto and a crowd is chanting.

“No hate speech on campus.. No hate speech on campus!”

Protesters heckle and shout down students who attempt to enter a lecture hall where a professor is speaking. Police try to keep the path clear.

Is Harper out of gas?

Except for the most serious Kool-Aid drinkers, it is getting painfully obvious to everyone that the current prime minister is getting past his best-before date.

If he were a week-old loaf of bread, or a dubious meatball at the back of the fridge, it would be time to throw him out. Of course, he is neither: he is a major and successful politician and his trip to the trash heap of history will be gradual. It will be buffered by a comfortable pension, and further soothed by cushy seats in the boardrooms of the nation. What is said about lawyers is also true of politicians — they never lose the case.

Lower cab fares, easier security, among DND reasons for move to ex-Nortel site

The Defence Department can’t say why it needs to move almost 10,000 of its employees to the former Nortel campus in the west end of Ottawa, but internal documents provide some of the reasons, including reduced cab fares, less need for commissionaires to guard offices and an atmosphere that allows people to work better together.

The Conservative government is spending at least $830 million to move military personnel and DND staff to the Nortel site at 3500 Carling Ave. That includes $208 million to buy the property and another $623 million that DND says it will cost to renovate the buildings there for its needs. The cost to prepare the site involves everything from creating new offices to installing secure computer networks.

Palestinians summon Canadian envoy over Baird's East Jerusalem meeting

RAMALLAH, Palestine - Palestinian anger over Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird's controversial meeting with an Israeli cabinet minister in East Jerusalem mounted Sunday with the Palestinian Authority making a formal protest to the Canadian envoy.

Baird met last Tuesday with Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, who is also Israel's chief negotiator with the Palestinians, in the disputed territory, which the Palestinians and the United Nations consider occupied land.

Nicolas Maduro wins presidential election in Venezuela

Nicolas Maduro has won the Venezuelan presidential election with 50.66 per cent of the vote against 49.07 per cent for opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski. Maduro gave a victory speech immediately after, while Capriles initially refused to recognize the results.

The "first bulletin" results were announced by the president of the National Electoral Council (CNE), Tibisay Lucena, at around 11:20p.m., with 99.12 per cent of the votes totaled, enough to give Maduro an irreversible victory.

Advice for Tom Mulcair and Justin Trudeau: Hammer Harper on the economy

Here's some free advice for a couple of would-be Canadian prime ministers who are both in the news these days, the NDP's Tom Mulcair and the Liberals' Justin Trudeau: Hammer Prime Minister Stephen Harper on the economy.

Both of them were with their party faithful yesterday -- Mulcair at the final day of the NDP's policy convention in Montreal and Trudeau at his coronation as Liberal leader in the evening in Ottawa. Either of them, it is said here, has the potential to form the next government of Canada if the planets line up the right way.

Whatever happened to that energy strategy?

TORONTO—Given the importance of energy to Canada’s environment and economy, it’s shocking that we don’t have an energy strategy.

Consider some of the highlights from just the past few weeks: There were multiple stories on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. TransCanada officially announced plans to convert an existing natural gas pipeline to carry Alberta’s bitumen to Eastern Canadian refineries. The NEB unveiled new rules for public participation into pipeline hearings. Hundreds of thousands of litres of wastewater leaked into the Athabasca River from an oilsands operation outside Fort McMurray. A pipeline carrying Canadian bitumen ruptured in Arkansas spilling into people’s backyards and forcing an evacuation. Meanwhile, the B.C. Liberals announced they would freeze the province’s carbon tax if re-elected. And the Alberta government floated a plan to raise levies on the oil industry.

Bestselling author of The Inconvenient Indian says feds mounting ‘all-out offensive’ on native lands

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s federal government is mounting an “all-out offensive on the native land base,” and is trying to break up the aboriginal state, says Thomas King, author of the bestselling book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America.

Mr. King says previous federal Liberal governments, beginning with Pierre Trudeau’s Liberal government and the 1969 White Paper, created what he calls “termination” policies and attitudes towards Canada’s aboriginal peoples, but he says today’s federal government is trying to get rid of the legal treaty-based land base by allowing allotments on reserves to be sold off which will eventually force reserves to collapse.

Yep, salvaging the Senate could really be so simple

OMPAH, ONT.—“Parliamentary government,” Eugene Forsey wrote, “is not just a matter of counting heads instead of breaking them. It is also a matter of using them. It is government by discussion, not just by majority vote.”

If that description seems antiquated in these days of omnibus bills, snappy sound bites and scripted spin, you’re probably thinking of the House of Commons. In its present incarnation, Parliament’s Lower House does seem to be abandoning thoughtful, informed debate in favour of partisan attacks and content-free talking points. Government by discussion is giving way to government by decree, with Parliament reduced to a sideshow.

World may not need as much oil as expected

TORONTO—Is oil demand near its peak, not because we are running out, but because the world doesn’t need as much as was, until recently, expected?  It is a critical question for Canada since our governments are betting so heavily on oil sands development as a key source of future wealth and jobs.

If global oil demand will peak in the not-so-distant future, then oil prices will decline and tax and royalty revenues for  public treasuries will be poorer than expected, creating budget challenges. This has big implications for oil sands and heavy oil, which are more expensive to produce than conventional oil.

RBC apology won’t change hollowing out of Canadian workforce

There are many shadows lurking behind the news that banks — my emails from frightened and angry readers convince me that I can’t single out merely RBC for this — are using outsourcing firms to perform the delicate task of bringing in lower-paid foreign temps to do work that Canadians had been doing.

Canada is being hollowed out. We suspected this but had never had it bite so deeply.

Toronto daycares in schools fear eviction it they refuse to run before- and after-school programs for full-day kindergarten

Toronto daycares in schools say they are being told if they refuse to run before- and after-school programs for full-day kindergarten students, they risk being replaced by another operator.

Daycares are balking because they say it is hard to hire staff for split shifts. They add that they don’t have enough money to refurbish kindergarten rooms to meet strict daycare standards and they can’t raise fees to cover costs if children drop out.
They say they can’t even bridge a worker’s day by offering a lunch program, because full-day kindergarten students who previously were in half-day child care are now the responsibility of the school.

Daycare parents are angry about the loss of hot lunches, inadequate noon-hour supervision and the revolving door of staff their children will have to deal with during the day. They also worry they may be left with no care for their children during the summer if some kids drop out and the program has to fold.

The city denies daycares are being kicked out of schools if they refuse to run the program.

But city staff say they can’t justify the additional administrative cost of dealing with two daycare operators in a school. It would also create too many transitions for families, they add.

Daycares outside Toronto are under pressure due to chronic underfunding and the loss of 4- and 5-year-olds to full-day kindergarten, said Andrea Calver of the Ontario Coalition for Better Child Care. But she hasn’t heard of any that are being pressured to run before- and after-school programs.

Eighty-eight daycares in Toronto schools are offering before- and after-school programs this year and at least one-third are feeling pressured to do it, says Jane Mercer of the Toronto Coalition for Better Child Care.

“The province has downloaded this program onto school boards who have side-loaded it to community-based child care and said, ‘here, you do it.’ ” Mercer said. “But daycares are left to cover all the start-up costs, scramble to find qualified staff willing to work split shifts and then charge fees that don’t cover the real cost.

“We would like the city to stand with us and push back on the school boards and the province,” she said.

One parent whose daycare is being pressured to start a program next fall wonders what is going on.

“Our daughter is going into kindergarten and we are really worried,” said Rita Aydin, a board member of Lake Shore Community Childcare, in Seventh St. Public School near Islington Ave. and Lake Shore Blvd.

Aydin, whose daughter Aria doesn’t turn 4 until November, is especially concerned about lunchtime.

“She is a picky eater and if she sees everyone eating the same thing, she will eat,” Aydin said. “But if there is no lunch program, I don’t know what will happen.”

Money is also a problem for the centre. Even with a 5 per cent fee increase for the daycare’s toddler, preschool and school-age programs, the non-profit centre is facing a $25,000 loss, said director Lisa Tjernstrom.

“This has all landed on community child-care centres that don’t have the resources and it’s a mess,” she said. “I’m furious.”

The McGuinty Liberals introduced full-day kindergarten in the fall of 2009 mandating teams of teachers and early childhood educators to provide a seamless day of learning in schools from 7 a.m. until 6 p.m. for families who need it.

But when school boards complained about running before- and after-school programs, the government amended the legislation to allow them to contract out the service to non-profit child-care operators.

Under provincial regulations, parents are expected to pay the full cost of before- and after-school programs, with a limited number of subsidies available for low-income families. But the strict rules make it difficult for some daycares to integrate the program with their care for older and younger children.

So far, demand has been low due to registration problems, high fees and program uncertainty. Of roughly 23,000 Toronto children in full-day kindergarten this year, fewer than 1,900 are registered in before- and after-school care.

In the city’s east-end, Plains Rd. Child Care supervisor Cathy O’Toole is so upset by how her centre was treated last year, she has complained to Toronto City Ombudsman Fiona Crean.

“When we looked at the numbers and politely declined (to offer the program), the city threatened to cancel its purchase of service agreement with us,” she said. “We felt really strong-armed.”

The centre, located in Canadian Martyrs Catholic School, got a reprieve after only seven children registered for the program — three short of the minimum of 10 required by the Catholic board, O’Toole said. (The Toronto board is following the provincial minimum of 20 children.)

But O’Toole is not sure what she will do next year if more children sign up.

The city is planning another 113 before- and after-school programs for full-day kindergarten next fall, bringing the total to 199 sites, says Toronto’s manager of children’s services.

But so far, Elaine Baxter-Trahair, the city’s general manager of children’s services, says no daycares have refused to participate.

Toronto received an additional $8.3 million in provincial funds this year to stabilize its historically underfunded daycare system.

It is spending more than $2.4 million to help daycares transition to full-day kindergarten this year. But staff say Toronto is still short about $21 million in operating funds and $26 million in capital funds to stabilize the system.

Original Article
Author:  Laurie Monsebraaten

How the Maker of TurboTax Fought Free, Simple Tax Filing

This story was co-produced with NPR. It originally appeared on the ProPublica website.

Imagine filing your income taxes in five minutes—and for free. You'd open up a pre-filled return, see what the government thinks you owe, make any needed changes, and be done. The miserable annual IRS shuffle, gone.

California's Dark-Money Investigation Is Making Conservatives Sweat

Investigators with California's election watchdog and attorney general's office are hot on the trail of the true source of millions in dark money spent to defeat two hard-fought ballot propositions last fall. The wide-ranging probe has conservatives worried that a network of nonprofit groups used to move secret money around the country could be in for some unwanted exposure.

The investigation, led by the state's nonpartisan Fair Political Practices Commission, has already done more than most watchdogs to pry open the black box of the conservative dark-money groups that spent freely in 2012 without disclosing the sources of their money. Last fall, the FPPC revealed what it called "the largest contribution ever disclosed as campaign money laundering in California history" after it discovered that three nonprofits had funneled $11 million from Virginia to Arizona to California.

Is It Time to Stop Coddling Canada's Banks?

The controversy over RBC's outsourcing of jobs has touched a raw nerve with Canadians, and nowhere is that clearer than in the "Boycott RBC" campaigns that have popped up online.

Clearly, many Canadians already unhappy with their banking options became much less happy to hear that at least one of Canada's iconic institutions is shipping jobs overseas.

But when public relations experts chimed in on the controversy, they declared that, for all the public outrage, RBC's bottom line won't suffer as a result.

Well you can bet on that.

MPs missed chance to make informed decision on 29,000 PS job cuts: Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Information on the service impact of almost 29,000 public service job cuts is finally emerging, but it’s too late for Parliamentarians to make an informed choice on whether balancing the books is worth it, says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives senior economist David Macdonald.

“We’re only finding out now information that we likely should have known several years ago. When Parliamentarians were asked to vote on a budget that eliminated large numbers of people they actually didn’t know where those cuts were going to come from, in terms of the people or which programs were going to be affected,” he said.

Harper government slammed for its ‘manipulative’ budgets, lack of transparency, details

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s federal budget document may be 442 pages long and it’s supposed to lay out how the government plans to spend $282.6-billion this fiscal year, but experts, veteran political players, and critics say the budget document increasingly lacks the transparency and detail of previous federal budgets, and say it’s time to bring the budget’s traditional focus back on the taxing and spending priorities of the government and stop using the budget as a political document.

Feds promise ‘comprehensive elections reform’ to stop fraudulent robocalls, but still won’t say when

There is still time for a legislative response to prevent the use of deceptive phone calls, like those used in the 2011 federal election, to be fully implemented before the 2015 election, say experts. But questions are being raised about the scope of the anticipated government legislation which Democratic Reform Minister Tim Uppal says will be a “comprehensive elections reform proposal.”

Feds lobbying hard for oilsands at U.S. municipal, state levels

Canadian officials have been pushing back against efforts to block oilsands crude exports from passing through the New England states of Vermont and Maine—a sign that the industry and the federal government hope to one day send oil east of Alberta for export through the United States.

Representatives from Canada’s New England consulate in Boston have been making the rounds at town hall meetings and state legislature hearings in Vermont and Maine in recent months to counter various initiatives aimed at blocking Western Canadian oil sands crude from being transported through a 380 km pipeline that runs through the two states and northern New Hampshire.

Around the world, Canadian foreign service officers continue work to rule

Having conceded two major pay issues to the government, the union representing more than 1,000 foreign service officers currently working to rule says it’s the government’s turn to compromise.

“Unless Treasury Board returns to the table to engage in a serious discussion, and to put an offer on the table which addresses our legitimate and reasonable and longstanding demands for equal pay for equal work … we will continue to contemplate elevating pressure on departmental operations through additional job action measures,” said Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers President Tim Edwards.

The Story Of Mohammad Mahjoub

Mohammed Mahjoub, who was for years held captive by the federal government but never charged, is using his newfound freedom to tour the country and shed a light on what he says is the abuse and torment he suffered at the hands of Canadian authorities.

In Calgary earlier this week, Mahjoub spoke of how he originally fled his native Egypt, where he was a victim of abuse and repression, only to allegedly be subjected to more of the same in his newly adopted land.

NDP votes to take 'socialism' out of party constitution

The NDP voted Sunday to take references to socialism out of the party's constitution, a controversial move to modernize that the party had to set aside two years ago.

Delegates voted 960 to 188 in favour of the change. The result was met with cheers of "NDP! NDP!"

The move was supported by popular former leader Jack Layton, who died shortly after leading the party to its best-ever federal election result in 2011. Layton felt the party needed to modernize the preamble in order to appeal to more Canadians.

Labour Rights conference highlights unions' role in fight for rights, democracy

Almost 200 people gathered in Toronto at the end of March to discuss the establishment and protection of labour laws in Canada and internationally as well as why unions matter in today’s global economy.

“Particularly in this day and age when we’re under such attack,” said James Clancy, national president, NUPGE Canada.

Over the course of the conference, hosted by The Canadian Foundation for Labour Rights (CFLR), a panel of experts spoke about the links between labour rights, democracy, equality and social justice.

The NDP stumbles over the 'S' word: Strategy

This weekend the NDP is meeting in Montréal. The party’s intentions are clear: they want to show Canadians that they’re ready to govern. This, despite the fact that most Canadians have lived under a social democratic government at some point and know that the NDP can govern.

Unfortunately, they failed the first test: offering proof that they are interested in debating issues of governance. Instead, the big controversy of the convention has been a carryover issue from the last convention, two years ago: to or to not remove the word “socialism” from the NDP’s constitution.

Drought: Why the Dust Bowl may be coming back

Drought conditions in more than half of the United States have slipped into a pattern that is uncomfortably similar to the most severe droughts in recent history, including the 1930s Dust Bowl, climatologists say.

The 2013 drought season is off to a worse start than in 2012 or 2011. It’s a good indicator, based on historical records, that the entire year will be drier than last year, even if spring and summer rainfall and temperatures remain the same, says scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Margaret Thatcher, Kathleen Wynne, Alison Redford and the politics of conviction

This week saw the passing of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, one of the most influential politicians of the 20th century and probably the greatest female political leader of modern times. It is a truism that Thatcher led a revolution in the U.K. and beyond, one of the hallmarks of which was the notion that cutting taxes should be a central goal of modern government. Thatcherism, as it came to be called, in conjunction with Reaganism, its brother doctrine in the U.S., held that tax cuts were the cure to most of the economic and social ills that afflicted western democracies in the 1970s and 1980s.

Polar Bear Poachers Use Canadian Documents To Disguise Illegally Hunted Pelts, Russians Say

Russian officials are becoming increasingly concerned about polar bear poachers in their country using Canadian documents to disguise illegally hunted pelts.

"I think it is a real problem," said Nikita Ovsyanikov, one of Russia's top polar bear scientists and a member of the polar bear specialist group, the leading international research consortium on the mighty and controversial predators.

Where the sidewalk ends…

Some time before lunch on Monday, March 18, a group of four to six people arrived on the sidewalk outside Harbord Collegiate. Youngish, in winter coats, they each carried a placard displaying an image of an aborted fetus.

This was today's stop for the protesters, and it would result in criminal charges being laid. Not against them but against Sam James, the owner of a nearby coffee shop who confronted them; he allegedly spat, threw coffee on their signs, and assaulted one person who was carrying a camera.

John Prescott, Bob Crow And Bishop Of Grantham Attack Thatcher's £10M Funeral

Labour's former deputy prime minister John Prescott has launched a blistering attack on the £10m cost of Margaret Thatcher's funeral.

Writing in his column in the Sunday Mirror, Lord Prescott said the ceremonial funeral at St Paul's Cathedral on Wednesday was simply a "political propaganda exercise" for the Tory Party.

"I despised everything she stood for. She may have been a woman, but in her policies she showed no compassion to the sick, needy and the desperate," he wrote.

Big six energy firms accused of 'cold-blooded profiteering'

The big six energy suppliers have been accused of "cold-blooded profiteering" after official figures showed they had more than doubled their retail profit margins over the last 18 months and were now earning an average of £95 profit per household on dual-fuel bills.

The industry regulator Ofgem, which produced the estimates, said profits per household would reach £100 over the next 12 months.

Plans to drop climate debate from national curriculum 'unacceptable'

Leading environmental figures, including the broadcaster Sir David Attenborough and the mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington, have condemned government plans to drop debate about climate change from the national curriculum for children under 14 as "unfathomable and unacceptable".

In a letter to the Sunday Times, signed by academics, politicians and business leaders, they warn the proposals are shortsighted, coming when the loss of wildlife and habitats is ongoing, and evidence suggests many children are missing out on the benefits of spending time in nature. "Under the new draft national curriculum for England, education on the environment would start three years later than at present and all existing references to care and protection would be removed," the letter states.

North Korea dismisses offer of talks as John Kerry urges dialogue

North Korea has dismissed the South's proposal to resolve tensions through dialogue, describing it as "a crafty trick" to disguise Seoul's hostility.

The Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said it would not talk unless Seoul abandoned its confrontational posture, in a statement released through the official news agency. The South's unification ministry described that as a preliminary response, and said it would watch developments.

Medical Progress, Social Progress, and Legal Regression

The abortion laws passed last week in North Dakota are troubling first and foremost because they restrict women’s freedom to control their own bodies. More insidiously, they criminalize selective abortion, which means that a woman cannot choose to terminate a pregnancy because she knows the fetus has a genetic abnormality, or to select for other characteristics, such as gender. The very use of the world “selective” here indicates how right the pro-choice movement has been to emphasize “choice.” All abortion is selective, and whether a woman has selected not to have a baby at all or has selected not to have a particular baby is not a matter the state should parse. No one should be forced to have a child she doesn’t wish to have.

Elizabeth Warren Responds To Criticism Of Social Security Email

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) responded to criticism of an email she sent describing her brother David, who counts on Social Security for income, saying "not everyone has a sister who can help."

The email, which was sent on Wednesday, was a response to President Barack Obama's plan to cut Social Security benefits. Warren said she was "shocked to hear" of Obama's plan before describing how her brother David lives on the $13,200 per year he receives in Social Security benefits.

Guantanamo Hunger Strike: Guards Fire Four Non-Lethal Shots, Force Detainees Into Single Cells

WASHINGTON -- Military guards at Guantanamo's communal camp fired four non-lethal rounds at detainees early Saturday morning as the facility commander forced them into single cells in an apparent effort to stop a prolonged hunger strike.

Currently, 43 detainees are on a hunger strike at the prison; 13 of those are being force fed.

Guards forced detainees from communal areas to individual cells at 5:10 a.m. EDT on Saturday, said a Department of Defense news release. The action was taken "in response to efforts by detainees to limit the guard force's ability to observe the detainees by covering surveillance cameras, windows, and glass partitions."

Four non-lethal rounds were fired after some of the detainees used "improvised weapons," to resist being moved, according to the military. No guards or detainees were seriously injured.

The military said that more than 40 detainees are participating in the hunger strike, which began in February, but detainees have told their lawyers the strike is much more widespread and involves the vast majority of the 166 detainees remaining at Guantanamo.

Original Article
Author:  Ryan J. Reilly 

Penashue makes no apologies for withholding funds

Peter Penashue says he has no regrets for withholding federal funding from a couple of Newfoundland projects in order

to secure provincial dollars for paving the Trans-Labrador Highway. Penashue cited poor relations between Newfoundland and Labrador, in terms of resource sharing, as justification for his tactic.

According to Penashue, in an interview with The Labradorian, he withheld funding for two projects on the island, but would not say what they were or which departments were involved.

“Well that’s not important. … What’s important is that I represented the interests of Labrador,” Penashue said when asked what the two projects were.

Wicked Witch war of words: 'Has Thatcher bashing crossed a line?' Well, er… no!

Oh my -- quelle horreur! -- naughty Britons still appalled by the depredations visited upon their country by Margaret Thatcher's government have shocked and appalled the world by pushing "Ding Dong! The Witch is Dead!" to the top of the charts.

In case you missed it, the former British prime minister, who was in office from 1979 to 1990, died on Monday at 87. But it took until yesterday for the song from the Wizard of Oz -- an apt metaphor itself for the operational side of neocon governments everywhere -- to mischievously reach No. 1 on the British Broadcasting Corp.'s weekly music chart.

Refugees without health care caught between death and debts

Israel Sosa’s deportation has been put on hold as the 50-year-old battles colon cancer.

The failed refugee claimant from the Dominican Republic has been allowed to stay in Canada on humanitarian grounds for now — but he has been banned from getting treatment under Ottawa’s Interim Federal Health (IFH) Program for refugees.

The Toronto man could choose to delay treatment and face death — or go into debt paying his medical costs.

Russia Responds To U.S. Magnitsky Act By Placing 18 Americans On Blacklist

MOSCOW — Russia on Saturday banned 18 Americans from entering the country in response to Washington imposing sanctions on 18 Russians for alleged human rights violations.

The list released by the Foreign Ministry includes John Yoo, a former U.S. Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogation techniques; David Addington, the chief of staff for former U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney; and two former commanders of the Guantanamo Bay detention center: retired Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller and Adm. Jeffrey Harbeson.

Nowhere to Run To: A Global Resistance to Toxic Extraction Industry?

On April 12, 2013, the province of British Columbia announced four new proposals for LNG export terminals on the north coast. One of the four companies involved, Australian based Woodside Petroleum, announced on the very same day that they were shelving plans for a $47 billion LNG terminal in Australia.

The reason Woodside gave for canceling this project, which was the largest proposed construction project on the horizon for that country, was that the economics were no longer feasible. Nothing I've come across in the media references these two projects together, and so the company has not publicly stated whether the Canadian proposal had anything to do with this decision.

Don't upset Margaret Thatcher mourners, police warn protesters

Protesters could be arrested for "alarming or distressing" mourners at the funeral of Lady Thatcher, a police chief in charge of security at the event has warned.

Commander Christine Jones, who oversaw the wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton, warned that officers had power under the controversial section 5 of the Public Order Act to step in if non-violent action was the cause of "harassment, alarm or distress" as Thatcher's coffin makes its way through London to St Paul's Cathedral.

Millions face starvation as world warms, say scientists

Millions of people could become destitute in Africa and Asia as staple foods more than double in price by 2050 as a result of extreme temperatures, floods and droughts that will transform the way the world farms.

As food experts gather at two major conferences to discuss how to feed the nine billion people expected to be alive in 2050, leading scientists have told the Observer that food insecurity risks turning parts of Africa into permanent disaster areas. Rising temperatures will also have a drastic effect on access to basic foodstuffs, with potentially dire consequences for the poor.

Dutch Banking Giants Helped Clients Go Offshore

ING and ABN Amro set up dozens of companies in island tax havens.

The Dutch banks ING and ABN Amro registered dozens of companies for their clients in offshore refuges with lovely beaches and low tax rates such as the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands and the Malaysian island of Labuan, an investigation by Dutch newspaper Trouw and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found.

Family of Televangelist Chris Oyakhilome Incorporated Secretive Company in Tax Haven

Shares of an offshore company were held in trust for the daughters of Nigerian mega-church pastor, associate says.

Secret documents link family and associates of one of Africa’s most popular pastors, Nigerian televangelist the Rev. Chris Oyakhilome, to an offshore company in the British Virgin Islands.

A business associate of the pastor says some directors in the company held shares on behalf of the pastor’s daughters, Sharon and Charlyn, who are now teenagers.

Secret Files Reveal Rothschild’s Offshore Domain

Late guardian of French branch of banking dynasty had a web of at least 20 secrecy-cloaked trusts in the South Pacific.

Baron Elie de Rothschild, the guardian of the French branch of the famed Rothschild banking dynasty, built an offshore empire in the palm-fringed Cook Islands between 1996 and 2003.

Rothschild, a businessman and arts patron who died in 2007 at the age of 90, constructed a complex network of offshore trusts and front companies, according to secret documents obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and reviewed by Le Monde.

Salaam Fayyad Resigns: Prime Minister Of Palestine Steps Down

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian Prime Minister Salaam Fayyad resigned on Saturday, leaving the Palestinians without one of their most moderate and well-respected voices just as the U.S. is launching a new push for Mideast peace.

A statement from the official Palestinian news agency Wafa said President Mahmoud Abbas met with Fayyad late in the day and accepted his resignation, thanking him for his service. According to the statement, Abbas asked Fayyad to continue to serve in his post until Abbas forms a new government.

Barry Weisleder, NDP Socialist Caucus Chair, Says NDP Moving Too Close To Centre

The NDP policy convention in Montreal got off to a rocky start Friday. Predictably, the chair of the NDP socialist caucus Barry Weisleder took to the microphone and urged delegates to ditch a guest speaker from the U.S. and instead spend more time debating policies the grassroots had suggested. The party members voted overwhelmingly against Weisleder's motion — just as it did when Weisleder, who represents the party's far left, proposed a similar motion at the NDP's last policy convention in Vancouver in 2011.