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, June 03, 2013

18 Of America's Biggest Companies Using Tax Havens To Skirt $92 Billion In U.S. Taxes: CTJ

Apple may be getting all the attention from lawmakers and the news media for its offshore tax practices, but a new report finds that other major companies are using similar tactics to avoid paying taxes on billions of dollars in profits.

At least 18 companies, including Nike, Microsoft and Apple, are stashing profits in offshore tax havens likely in a bid to avoid paying taxes, according to a new report from the Citizens for Tax Justice, a left-leaning research group. If the companies brought that money home, they would pay combined more than $92 billion in U.S. taxes, the report found.

House Republican Defense Bill Blocks Guantanamo Closing

WASHINGTON -- Rebuffing President Barack Obama's latest plea, House Republicans on Monday proposed keeping open the military-run prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by barring the administration from transferring its terror suspects to the United States or a foreign country such as Yemen.

The provisions dealing with the fate of the remaining 166 prisoners are part of a defense policy bill drafted by Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif. The chairman released the bill Monday, two days before Republicans and Democrats on the committee will vote on it.

Pressure Grows to Create Drugs for ‘Superbugs’

Government officials, drug companies and medical experts, faced with outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant “superbugs,” are pushing to speed up the approval of new antibiotics, a move that is raising safety concerns among some critics.

Occupy Gezi: International Solidarity for Turkey's Uprising

A relatively small protest at Turkey’s Gezi Park to prevent the ripping out of trees to make way for the building of a shopping mall has erupted into an uprising in which over 1,900 people have been arrested and reports of 1,700 more injured. Protesters say the harsh treatment by police, such as shooting tear gas and water cannons at protesters, is just one more symptom of Prime Minister Erdogan’s authoritarian rule.

Frank Lautenberg, the Last of the New Deal Liberals

Frank Lautenberg, the son of a Paterson, New Jersey, silk mill worker and the last World War II veteran serving in the US Senate, took his cues from another political time: a time when liberals were bold and unapologetic, a time when it was understood that government could and should do great things.

One of the few members of Congress who could remember listening to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the radio and going to college on the initial GI Bill, Lautenberg served five terms in the US Senate as a champion of great big infrastructure investments—especially for Amtrak and urban public transportation—great big environmental regulations, great big consumer protections and great big investigations of wrongdoing by Wall Street.

Fuck the High Road: The Upside of Sinking to Their Level

Don’t feed the trolls: it’s probably the most common refrain in online discussions, especially when dealing with misogynists in feminists conversations. The idea is that the best way to deal with sexists is to starve of them of the attention they’re so clearly desperate for. Besides, we think, why sink to their level?

But the high road is overrated. It requires silence in the face of violent misogyny, and a turn-the-other cheek mentality that society has long demanded of women. A vibrant feminist movement has ensured women don’t take injustices laying down offline—so why would we acquiesce on the Internet?

China Is Reaping Biggest Benefits of Iraq Oil Boom

BAGHDAD — Since the American-led invasion of 2003, Iraq has become one of the world’s top oil producers, and China is now its biggest customer.

China already buys nearly half the oil that Iraq produces, nearly 1.5 million barrels a day, and is angling for an even bigger share, bidding for a stake now owned by Exxon Mobil in one of Iraq’s largest oil fields.

MSNBC Chief Phil Griffin: 'We're Not The Place' For Breaking News

MSNBC has been under the microscope recently for its precipitous drop in the ratings over the past month. Most analysis of the decline—which saw the network fall to fourth place and its biggest hosts, such as Rachel Maddow, post record low numbers—has focused on the notion that MSNBC struggles when there is major, breaking, non-political news.

In a Monday interview with the New York Times, MSNBC president Phil Griffin essentially told viewers that they were right to go somewhere else for breaking news, since that was not what MSNBC is about.

Harper needs a better brand of B.S.

There is something on a senator’s desk on the Hill that Stephen Harper badly needs.

No, not Mike Duffy’s resignation letter. It is a bottle of red tablets bearing the label “Anti-Bullshit Pills.”

I do not practise lèse-majesté here. That is what the label says.

I am sure Senator Wilfred Moore would share, if not the contents of the bottle, then the name of the dispensing pharmacy. To be fair to Wilfred, I should add that the bottle on his desk is unopened — no more than a signal to visitors that the bull stops here.

Federal government to offer do-over of failed citizenship exams

OTTAWA — Those who fail the citizenship test will soon get a one-time do-over according to new rules being introduced by the federal government, Postmedia News has learned.

With average wait times for processing citizenship applications about 23 months, Immigration Minister Jason Kenney wants to throw prospective Canadians a bone by giving them two chances to pass the test.

Ten ways to lead a better life without growth - part 1

Two weeks ago the de-growth research group Collectif de recherche interuniversitaire et transdisciplinaire sur les impasses de la croissance (CRITIC) held its first colloquium, entitled "How much should we keep on digging? The limits to growth," at HEC Montréal. The de-growth movement voiced very relevant critiques concerning the economics of accumulation, always in search of unlimited profits even though the planet's environmental and social limits are brought ever more sharply into focus.

Fittingly, the French periodical Alternatives économiques published this month a feature entitled "A better life without growth" which brought to the fore 10 proposals towards improving our lives now that the end of growth is either desirable, or inevitable. These suggestions are very interesting, easy to implement, and more people should hear about them really. They are meant to decrease individuals' expenses in order to lessen the urge to accumulate money. We will go over each one and adapt it to the situation in Québec.

Scandals galore in Ottawa: Harper's chickens have come home to roost

In Ottawa, it's raining scandal. Correction, it's pouring, with hurricane-force winds. For a government that thrives on the politics of cynicism, exhibits, at every turn, contempt for democracy and election laws and is preoccupied with punishing those who disagree with their ideology, the past three scandal-clad weeks are as if all of Stephen Harper's chickens have come home to roost.

New CRTC wireless rules ban contract break fees after 2 years

The CRTC has unveiled a new code of conduct that forbids cellphone companies from charging customers fees to break their contracts after two years and makes it easier to unlock cellphones.

Those are two of the biggest takeaways from a new code of conduct that the broadcast regulator unveiled on Monday and will come into effect for contracts signed after Dec. 2, 2013.

How Obama's FBI Nominee James Comey Triggered the Plamegate Investigation

The pending nomination of James Comey to become FBI chief is a poke in the eye with a very sharp stick for the Cheney crowd. Comey, deputy attorney general during the W. years, has drawn criticism from civil libertarians for being part of an administration that waterboarded (though Comey reportedly opposed the justification of this practice), yet Comey is best known for saying no to a top-secret surveillance program much beloved by Vice President Dick Cheney and his lieutenants. He successfully defied the Bush-Cheney White House on this point in a dramatic encounter in a Washington hospital room, when top Bush advisers tried to bum-rush an ailing Attorney General John Ashcroft into authorizing an extension of the program after Comey, then the acting attorney general, had refused. But Cheney and his crew have another good reason to be aghast at the thought of Comey leading the FBI: he was the guy who started the independent Plamegate investigation that ended up tainting Cheney and convicting Scooter Libby, Cheney's chief of staff, of serious crimes.

Student Loan Debt Is a Beast. Here Are Elizabeth Warren's, President Obama's, and the GOP's Plans to Fix It

If you're one of the 37 million Americans with student loan debt, you're in for a real treat come July 1. That's when interest rates on federal student loans are set to rise to 6.8 percent—double the current rate of 3.4 percent. That deadline has lawmakers scrambling for a fix. There are a bunch of proposals out there, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren's call for students to be allowed to pay the low, low rate that big banks pay for short-term borrowing; a plan President Barack Obama laid out in his budget in April; and the GOP plan that just passed the House—a plan Obama hates.

Passing the Pipeline Would Be Harper's Political Suicide

Even with BC Premier Christy Clark's government firmly rejecting tar sand giant Enbridge's proposed northern gateway pipeline project, there is still an outside chance that Prime Minister Stephen Harper could try and ram the project through.

In its official response [pdf] to the joint review panel for the northern gateway project, the BC government cites major concerns about Enbridge's ability to handle a major spill, as the reason for not supporting the project.

Toronto Star reporter arrested, ticketed after taking photos of injured GO transit officer

GO Transit officials are reviewing an incident in which a Toronto Star reporter was arrested, put in headlock, handcuffed and ticketed with trespassing for taking pictures of an injured officer at Union Station.

Two GO Transit officers were thrown onto the train tracks — one breaking his ankle — following a skirmish with a man trying to open the doors of a moving train early Sunday morning. The station was packed with people heading home from two major events at the Air Canada Centre and Rogers Centre.

Blame for Senate spending scandal falls on Senate abusers but also on their enablers

OTTAWA—How many senators does it take to get to the airport?

As many as can fit in the cab, as long as they can all claim $30 without a receipt.

The stories may be apocryphal — or maybe not — but the days of the old gaggle of senators piling into a cab, then all individually claiming the $30 receipt-free cab allowance, is off the table.

How GOP lost young voters

A new postmortem on the November elections from the nation’s leading voice for college Republicans offers a searing indictment of the GOP “brand” and the major challenges the party faces in wooing young voters, according to a copy given exclusively to POLITICO on Sunday.

The College Republican National Committee on Monday made public a detailed report — the result of extensive polling and focus groups — dissecting what went wrong for Republicans with young voters in the 2012 elections and how the party can improve its showing with that key demographic in the future.

MacKay’s office sparked NIS probe of ‘leak’ from U.S. news release

OTTAWA — The office of Defence Minister Peter MacKay requested an investigation by the military’s elite investigative arm last year after an Ottawa Citizen journalist published information contained in a press release.

MacKay’s office alleged that the information was the result of a leak, even though Citizen reporter David Pugliese identified on four occasions that the details came from a U.S. Navy news release.

Conservative Party of Canada perpetrated widespread election fraud in 2011

On May 31, 2013 the Applicants announced they would not be appealing judgement of the Federal Court in the "election fraud" cases they had brought to contest the outcome of the May 2011 election in six ridings across the country. As the Applicants explained, the judgement represented a complete vindication of their contention that widespread voter fraud took place during that Federal Election and they saw no point in continuing the fight to protect their democratic rights in the Courts.

The judgement speaks for itself on the extent and manner in which that electoral fraud was perpetrated during the last federal election. Here is what the judge had to say:

    "The...evidence confirms that there was a deliberate attempt at voter suppression during the 2011 election."

What was Stephen Harper doing in Peru last week?

Why in the world was Stephen Harper in Peru last week instead of in Parliament trying to end the crisis that's destabilized his entire government?

Well, the Prime Minister has two great economic passions. The first, as everyone knows, is building pipelines to enable ever more quantities of oil from the Alberta tar sands to flow.

The Brothers Ford and the Charm Problem

With Toronto's mayor Rob Ford -- or RoFo as the wags have dubbed him -- dominating the news for more than two weeks over reports of a video allegedly showing him smoking crack cocaine, you might have missed the ongoing and not entirely-unrelated stories about what I'm calling "The Man Problem."

When it's cropping up on the grammar sites, I think we have to begin taking it seriously.

Relationship between scientists, feds tense these days

TORONTO—The relationship between science and the federal government is tense these days, not just because of government cutbacks in federal laboratories and the muzzle on federal scientists in talking about their work, but also because of a view of some that the Harper government is even anti-science altogether. This tension exists despite the fact that the Harper government has sustained high levels of spending on university-based scientific research.

Tory MPs slam Federal Court’s findings of fraud, ‘concerted campaign’ to suppress voters in last election

Six Conservative MPs, whose ridings were involved in a Federal Court challenge to overturn their 2011 election results, either refused to comment or criticized Justice Richard Mosley’s recent finding that fraud occurred across Canada in the last campaign. The Federal Court also found there was no proof fraud affected the outcomes in the six ridings and decided the elections will not be overturned.

“If he’s said there’s fraud then I would hope that whatever he’s said can be followed up. But what I am most concerned about is the allegations about me and my team, and we’re clean,” said Conservative MP Jay Aspin, who was first elected in Nipissing-Timiskaming, Ont., in 2011 by a 14-vote margin.

Relentless wave of federal control eroding Canada’s proud history, culture

VICTORIA, B.C.—A relentless wave of federal control measures is eroding Canada’s proud history and culture. The list includes the CBC, our independent national broadcaster, now in danger of becoming a state-controlled tool from Bill C-60, the omnibus bill before Parliament. This historian is warning citizens to be alarmed and voice their opposition.

These measures, from late last year to this month, show how a majority government, elected with a little more than one-third of the votes, is exerting a stifling control.

Mike Duffy not only senator to campaign during 2011 vote, Elections Canada documents show

OTTAWA—While Sen. Mike Duffy was criss-crossing the country during the last federal election — apparently billing both local Conservative campaigns and the Senate for some of his expenses — some of his colleagues were also working to boost the fortunes of their parties in less noticeable ways.

A Star analysis of Elections Canada records shows that seven Conservative senators were reimbursed $8,929 by the campaigns of 23 Conservative candidates in the 2011 election and four Liberal senators were reimbursed $13,018 by the campaigns of four candidates for their party.

Feds pick off-the-shelf design for long-awaited resupply ships

OTTAWA - The federal government has picked an existing design for the replacement of the navy's decrepit supply ships, rather than going with a from-scratch model that it says would have cost more.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems Canada, which has built similar ships for the German navy, will supply the design for two or three Royal Canadian Navy ships, winning out over BMT Fleet Technology.

Rami Hamdallah Appointed Prime Minister Of Palestine By President Mahmoud Abbas

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Palestinian president on Sunday picked a little-known academic as his new prime minister, according to the official government news agency, following the resignation of his chief rival.

Mahmoud Abbas appointed Rami Hamdallah to replace Salam Fayyad, a respected U.S.-educated economist. Fayyad frequently clashed with Abbas and was seen as being too independent.

Rob Ford lashes out at critics once more on weekly Toronto radio show

TORONTO -- Toronto's mayor was in fighting form Sunday, taking every opportunity to throw punches at his critics while making no direct mention on his weekly radio show of the drug use allegations that have been dogging him for days.

Rob Ford's appearance on Newstalk 1010 remained true to his strategy of curtailing comment on the scandal that has now plagued him for more than a fortnight ever since two publications reported on an alleged video that shows the mayor smoking what appears to be crack cocaine.

Trudeau vows to 'raise the bar' for transparency on expenses

The only way to restore public trust in the wake of the Senate expenses scandal is to "raise the bar" and make parliamentarians' expenses more transparent than ever before, said Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau on Sunday.

Trudeau said he plans to announce new measures to increase accountability and transparency both in the Commons and the Senate in the near future.

Future top Mountie Paulson declared security certificate process 'off the rails'

On his way to becoming Canada's top cop, Bob Paulson told internal reviewers the national security certificate process for detaining suspected terrorists was "completely off the rails," newly released documents show.

In an interview with an auditor examining the controversial program, Paulson, now RCMP commissioner, expressed concerns about excessive state secrecy in certificate proceedings.

First Nations harmony depends on real action from Harper, Atleo says

The extent of First Nations unrest this summer depends in large part on how much concrete action Stephen Harper authorizes on entrenching ancient treaty rights, says National Chief Shawn Atleo.

In a wide-ranging interview to discuss the relationship with Ottawa, the head of the Assembly of First Nations gave mixed reviews to the process launched with great fanfare in January when Harper and Atleo last met.

Why Didn't the SEC Catch Madoff? It Might Have Been Policy Not To

More and more embarrassing stories of keep leaking out of the SEC, which is beginning to look somehow worse than corrupt – it's hard to find the right language exactly, but "aggressively clueless" comes pretty close to summing up the atmosphere that seems to be ruling the country's top financial gendarmes.

The most recent contribution to the broadening canvas of dysfunction and incompetence surrounding the SEC is a whistleblower complaint filed by 56-year-old Kathleen Furey, a senior lawyer who worked in the New York Regional Office (NYRO), the agency outpost with direct jurisdiction over Wall Street.

'Accidental' GST legislation set to grab extra $1 billion from insurers

OTTAWA - Canada's insurance industry faces a $1-billion GST bill at the end of this month, thanks to a federal tax move critics say smacks of a 'banana republic'.

The massive tax hit applies to some financial services that insurers say were never before subject to GST.

The GST now owed is retroactive seven years, back to 2005, when the federal Finance Department issued a news release saying it planned to amend tax legislation — something it didn't get around to implementing until 2010.

The worst month in the history of Canadian politics

Brent Rathgeber, the tall, nerdy Conservative backbencher with a blog had apparently been coaxed yesterday to one of the House foyer’s three microphones by a question about the transfer of Omar Khadr to a prison in Edmonton, the city from which Mr. Rathgeber hails. Soon enough, Mr. Rathgeber was being asked about the matter of Nigel Wright and Mike Duffy, a politician at a microphone inevitably attracting other reporters with other questions.

Air Canada defends charging staff for Disney training

Air Canada unveiled its new leisure travel airline brand this week by shining a spotlight on its new hipster-inspired style of flight attendant uniforms.

But some reports suggested its Monday fashion show — which was covered extensively in the Canadian media — was also a distraction from the reality about how its 150 younger new recruits were being treated.

The Banality of ‘Don’t Be Evil’

“THE New Digital Age” is a startlingly clear and provocative blueprint for technocratic imperialism, from two of its leading witch doctors, Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen, who construct a new idiom for United States global power in the 21st century. This idiom reflects the ever closer union between the State Department and Silicon Valley, as personified by Mr. Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, and Mr. Cohen, a former adviser to Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton who is now director of Google Ideas.

A Turkish Spring? Over 1,000 Injured as Anti-Government Protests Spread Outside of Istanbul

Turkey is seeing its biggest wave of protests against the ruling government in many years. Tens of thousands of people rallied across the country Sunday for a third consecutive day of mass demonstrations. The unrest erupted last week when thousands of people converged at Istanbul’s Taksim Square, a public space reportedly set for demolition. The protests have grown to include grievances against the government on a range of issues, and protesters have managed to remain despite a heavy police crackdown, including tear gas and rubber bullets. The Turkish government says around 1,000 people have been detained at more than 200 protests nationwide. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has dismissed the uproar as the work of political opponents and "extremists," vowing to proceed with governments plans to remake Taksim Square. "I cannot tell you how empowering this is," says Turkish scholar and activist Nazan Ustundag. "This is a country known for [police] brutality and for the Turkish people’s unquestioned loyalty to the state. So it’s very exciting all these different sections of people [are] standing [up for] the last public space which wasn’t given to private interests."

Author: --

Marsha Blackburn: Women 'Don't Want' Equal Pay Laws

Republican congresswoman Marsha Blackburn said on Sunday that women "don't want" equal pay laws.

During a roundtable discussion on NBC's Meet The Press, former White House advisor David Axelrod asked if she would support a law promoting workplace gender equality. Blackburn responded:

"I think that more important than that is making certain that women are recognized by those companies. You know, I’ve always said that I didn’t want to be given a job because I was a female, I wanted it because I was the most well-qualified person for the job. And making certain that companies are going to move forward in that vein, that is what women want. They don’t want the decisions made in Washington. They want to be able to have the power and the control and the ability to make those decisions for themselves."

The Anarchy Project

In The Democracy Project: A History, A Crisis, A Movement (Spiegel & Grau, 2013), David Graeber’s engaging new book on Occupy Wall Street, the author writes of the dismal culture in Washington during the summer of 2011, a few months before the occupation of Zucotti Park:

    Republicans were threatening to cause the US government to default in order to force massive cuts in social services intended to head off a largely imaginary debt crisis…President Obama, in turn, had decided the way to appear reasonable in comparison and thus seem as his advisors liked to put it ‘the only adult in the room’ was not to point out that the entire debate was founded on false economic premises, but to prepare a milder, ‘compromise’ version of the exact same program—as if the best way to expose a lunatic is to pretend that 50 percent of his delusions are actually true…. This is how a ragtag group of anarchists, hippies, unemployed college students, pagan tree sitters, and peace activists suddenly managed to establish themselves, by default, as America’s adults in the first place.

Bullying: How a school suspension, police investigation ‘railroaded’ Toronto teen

Mark and Daniel, two students at an elite academic public school in Toronto, never got along.

Mark thought Daniel arrogant and rude. “He has this delusion of grandeur,” says Mark, 17. “He thinks he’s just superior to everybody else.”

Daniel thought Mark green with envy.

China’s crackdown on corruption is bad news for Gucci

BEIJING—Exports of elegant Swiss watches to China have plunged. Sales of Mercedes-Benz and other premium sedans are slowing. And high-end restaurants, coming off their worst Chinese New Year festival in years, are starting to change their menus to lure ordinary families.

At a Montblanc shop in downtown Beijing, sales clerks recall the days when they rang up as many as 10 of the top-selling fountain pens every day. Never mind the $1,400 price tag: the platinum-plated pen capped with a half-carat diamond was a particular favourite. Nowadays the store only sells one such pen every two to three days, said a saleswoman, adding sadly that her pay is commission-based.

Premier Kathleen Wynne can’t save city from Mayor Rob Ford and brother Councillor Doug Ford

Picture this one-two punch: While the media clamour for the head of a scandal-plagued mayor, the coup de grâce comes from a new female premier who pressures him to quit.

That’s the dramatic scenario that played out in Quebec last year: Premier Pauline Marois humiliated Montreal’s embattled mayor, Gérald Tremblay, in a well-timed telephone call that prompted him to resign over a graft scandal.

Fire Jason Kenney and freeze immigration

Jason Kenney used to say the immigration system was broken and he was going to fix it. Yet it’s more broken now than when he took over in 2008.

Just about everything he has touched — and he touches a lot as minister for immigration and citizenship — is in chaos. The entire system is mired in scandalous delays. Crucially, different elements of it are working at cross-purposes.

Rob Ford video scandal: Don’t count the mayor out yet, political strategists say

People who think that Rob Ford’s political career will take a hit following allegations of crack cocaine use are delusional, says the man who ran George Smitherman’s failed mayoral campaign.

“His support is rock solid. He’s absolutely rock solid,” said Bruce Davis. “He’ll be very strong going into the election… The people who hated him before still hate him. The people who love him still love him. I haven’t met a single person who has changed their mind (because of the latest controversy).”

The business case to dump Rob Ford

There is a business case for removing Rob Ford from office.

Toronto is the principal city of this G-7 country, and among the world’s top 10 most influential financial centres. It’s among the fastest-growing cities on the continent, and one of the most culturally diverse towns on Earth. As such, it’s a complex city that requires the greatest competence civic leadership can bring to bear.

What is Happenning in Istanbul?

To my friends who live outside of Turkey:

I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.

Four days ago a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park. Among them there were many of my friends and students.  Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood! The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees.  Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.

Alison Redford New Brunswick Visit Aimed At West-East Pipeline

FREDERICTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford will meet her New Brunswick counterpart next week as the two try to drum up support for the west-east pipeline project.

Redford will meet David Alward next Friday to discuss the proposed development, which would ship oilsands crude from Alberta to the East Coast if it goes ahead.

Cathie Adams: Grover Norquist 'Showing Signs Of Converting To Islam' Because He Has A Beard

Cathie Adams, president of the Texas Eagle Forum and former chairman of the Republican Party of Texas, made questionable remarks about anti-tax activist Grover Norquist during a recent speech on “Radical Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In a video posted by the Far North Dallas Tea Party and reported on by Right Wing Watch, Adams can be heard saying Norquist is “showing signs of converting to Islam himself," citing his beard as evidence.

Reince Priebus Questions IRS Scandal, Obama 'Culture Of Hostility Toward Conservative Groups'

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus slammed President Barack Obama over the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups in the lead-up to the 2012 election, alleging Obama played a role in the incident.

"Will anyone take responsibility for the IRS scandal? When will we hear the whole truth?" Priebus writes. "And will the president ever admit to creating a culture of hostility toward conservative groups?"

Alberta Tories respond to protests by disabled citizens with instinctive diversionary attack

The optics of a government like Alberta's Progressive Conservatives cutting $42 million from programs designed to help the province's most vulnerable citizens become more employable are pretty horrible.

What's astonishing, though, is that it seems to have come to a huge surprise to the government of Premier Alison Redford that large numbers of the province's "persons with developmental disabilities" would vigourously protest the cuts -- and that such heart-rending demonstrations by vulnerable people would attract both media attention and public sympathy.

As the UN pleads for aid for Syria, Canadians should help

Syria’s agony knows no end. After two years of civil war, one of the Arab world’s great countries has been shattered. More than 70,000 people are dead. Some 8 million people, a third of the population, need aid. Millions have fled their homes. And the conflict shows every sign of growing worse.

President Bashar Assad’s vile regime is fighting with every weapon it has, from tanks and rockets to ethnic cleansing. He is supported by imported Hezbollah militants sponsored by Iran. The fractious opposition Syrian National Coalition, in turn, relies on Islamist fighters with affinities to Al Qaeda. Both sides have committed war crimes. Meanwhile, the European Union has just given its blessing to shipping weapons to the opposition. And, ominously, Russia is supplying Assad with sophisticated S-300 missiles.

Rob Ford: Mayor says he’ll choose cottage over Pride parade again

Rob Ford says he will skip the Pride parade this summer for the third consecutive time since he was elected mayor of Toronto.

Ford has faced criticism from even conservative allies for repeatedly refusing to attend one of the city's marquee celebrations. But he said Saturday that he will miss the parade again this year if it falls on the Canada Day weekend he usually spends at his family’s cottage in Muskoka. It does.

Foreclosure Auction Scams Face Federal Crackdown

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — At the height of the financial crisis, bargain hunters would gather each week on county courthouse steps to bid on foreclosed properties throughout Northern and Central California. The inventory lists were long, especially in hard-hit areas such as Sacramento and Stockton. But the auctions were generally short affairs — often because real estate speculators were illegally fixing the bidding process.

The $2.7 Trillion Medical Bill

MERRICK, N.Y. — Deirdre Yapalater’s recent colonoscopy at a surgical center near her home here on Long Island went smoothly: she was whisked from pre-op to an operating room where a gastroenterologist, assisted by an anesthesiologist and a nurse, performed the routine cancer screening procedure in less than an hour. The test, which found nothing worrisome, racked up what is likely her most expensive medical bill of the year: $6,385.

That is fairly typical: in Keene, N.H., Matt Meyer’s colonoscopy was billed at $7,563.56. Maggie Christ of Chappaqua, N.Y., received $9,142.84 in bills for the procedure. In Durham, N.C., the charges for Curtiss Devereux came to $19,438, which included a polyp removal. While their insurers negotiated down the price, the final tab for each test was more than $3,500.