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.]

Friday, December 13, 2013

Finally, A List Of All The Center For American Progress' 2013 Corporate Donors

WASHINGTON -- The Center for American Progress has for years faced a tension between its call for campaign finance transparency and its unwillingness to disclose its own donors. CAP, a liberal nonprofit with an advocacy arm, has company in Washington when it comes to opaque funding -- a phenomenon that gained attention last week when Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) demanded that banks disclose financial contributions to Washington think tanks that often act effectively as lobbyists without being required to register as such.

Federal Prison Crisis Poses 'Critical Threat' To Justice Department, Report Finds

WASHINGTON -- The ballooning cost of the overcrowded federal prison system is an "increasingly critical threat" to the Justice Department’s ability to fulfill its mission, the department's inspector general said in a report released Friday, which outlined the dual crisis the system faces.

"First, the costs of the federal prison system continue to escalate, consuming an ever-larger share of the Department’s budget with no relief in sight," said Michael Horowitz, the DOJ inspector general. "In the current era of flat or declining budgets, the continued growth of the prison system budget poses a threat to the Department’s other critical programs – including those designed to protect national security, enforce criminal laws, and defend civil rights."

Congress Chooses Austerity Over Job Creation and Economic Growth

Most members of Congress were pleased with themselves Thursday.

They agreed to agree – crossing lines of partisanship and ideology – on an austerity budget that, as Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio has noted, “won't create jobs, get the economy back on track, or meaningfully cut the deficit.”

That's not the worst of it.

“At the end of the day, the bill abandons 1.3 million Americans who desperately need unemployment insurance, and does nothing to promote economic growth or job creation," Congressman Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, explained Thursday. "Furthermore, the legislation is paid for on the backs of the middle class and military families, while not touching the wealthiest amongst us and allowing corporations to continue to benefit from tax loopholes.”

Hugh Segal, Tory Senator, Takes Parting Shot At Harper Over 'Fair Wages'

Now here’s something you don’t see very often — a Tory defending unions and praising their role in the economy.

Granted, the Tory in question is a Red Tory, a veteran of the Mulroney years and Ontario PC Premier Bill Davis’ government in the 1970s and 1980s.

All the same, Tory Senator Hugh Segal — who announced his retirement from the Senate on Thursday — gave the Harper government something of a lesson on the long-standing, historical support Canadian Tories have given unions — until recently, that is.

Manufacturing's Decline A Bigger Problem Than Housing Bubble: BMO

Heinz shuts down its plant in Leamington, Ont., laying off more than 700 and ending a 104-year-long presence in the town. Three weeks later, Kellogg’s shuts down its plant in London, Ont., erasing 500 jobs. Days after that, drugmaker Novartis announces its pharmaceutical plant in Mississauga will shut down, taking 300 jobs with it.

Add it all up, and what you have is the largest medium-term threat to Canada’s economy, BMO chief economist Doug Porter said in a client note this week.

Reform Act Not Needed, Says Tory House Leader Peter Van Loan

OTTAWA — Opposition parties and some Conservative members may decry the government’s methods of curtailing debate and whipping votes, but the party is simply offering stable government and fulfilling its electoral promises, the Tory House Leader says.

Peter Van Loan sat down with The Huffington Post Canada this week to reflect on 2013, a year marked by the Senate scandal and an insurrection of the Conservative backbench.

Be honest, Tories — the Post is toast

When the Conference Board of Canada published its report on the woes of Canada Post this past April, it offered several strategies to save the corporation from running a billion-dollar annual deficit by 2020. Chief among them was eliminating door-to-door service, which would yield savings of $576 million a year. Others included wage restraint and franchising postal outlets.

As Canada Post announced earlier this week, it will be putting some of these suggestions in place in the New Year, ending home delivery to the 35 per cent of its current customers who still receive it, and eliminating 6,000 to 8,000 jobs. At the same time, the corporation announced that the price of a stamp will jump from 63 cents to a dollar — 85 cents if you buy a roll of ten.

Finley silent on fate of $2-billion armoured-vehicle program as deadline looms

OTTAWA - The Harper government has awarded a $73.5-million contract for extra hard-top army shelters to an Ottawa firm, but remains mum on the future of a long-promised, $2-billion armoured-vehicle program.

The original deal for shelters was announced in 2009 as part of a logistics truck program, but Public Works Minister Diane Finley says the government has decided to order 99 more — to be used as field command posts and work spaces — on top of the 895 that were part of the first contract.

Liberals name Michael Bryant to head body that regulates accountants

TORONTO - Former attorney general Michael Bryant has landed a new job with the Ontario government, chairing a body that regulates the province's public accounting profession.

Bryant, a former rising star in the government of former premier Dalton McGuinty, quit provincial politics in 2009 and was CEO of Invest Toronto when he was involved in a fatal collision with a bicycle courier.

He was charged with criminal negligence causing death and dangerous driving in the death of bike courier Darcy Allan Sheppard, but all charges were later withdrawn.

After the incident, and his retirement from politics, Bryant wrote a book in which he confessed to being drunk during much of his time as a cabinet minister.

Bryant will replace John Crow, who is finishing his second and final term as chair of the Public Accounts Council.

Original Article
Author: CP

Personal support workers walk off job, demand wage increase and justice

Over 4,000 personal support workers (PSWs) walked off the job on Wednesday December 11 as part of a province wide strike.

PSWs working for Red Cross Care Partners have been in a legal strike position for several weeks. Workers contend that their actual wages have dropped seven per cent in the last two years due to a wage freeze combined with inflation and the increase in gas prices.

"They are paid poverty-level wages of $15 an hour and are expected to pay for gas out of pocket when they drive long distances to make home visits" said Sharleen Stewart, the president of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Healthcare Canada, which represents the 4,500 affected workers, in a statement released to media.

How corporate greed and corruption could lead us to another crash

This is the third installment of an investigative series looking at the safety and conduct of Canadian banks. Please read part one and part two.

Are you ready for the Western world's economy to crash -- again?

More banks will go under. Many tens of thousands of people will again be thrown out of work. Billions of dollars in "investments" will disappear into thin air.

I believe it's not a question of "if" financial markets and the economy will crash again, but "when."

Swell of boycotts driving Israel into international isolation

A senior European diplomat met with an Israeli counterpart a few weeks ago and one of the topics they discussed was the continued European Union sanctions against the settlements. They raised in their conversation the possible scenario that Israeli produce from the West Bank would be marked as such in European supermarkets. The conversation points to one of the gravest threats Israel will face in the coming year, namely its growing international isolation.

“The marking of produce from the [Palestinian] territories is on hold at this stage," the European diplomat said to his Israeli interlocutor. “However, should the negotiations with the Palestinians run aground you should expect a deluge of sanctions.” The Israeli official was taken aback by the sharp words. “Aren’t the circumstances of a breakdown in negotiations relevant,” he asked. The European replied laconically, “the way things look now, you will be the losers in the blame game.”

Polaroid & Apartheid: Inside the Beginnings of the Boycott, Divestment Movement Against South Africa

We look back at how African-American workers at Polaroid in Massachusetts helped launch the divestment movement against Apartheid South Africa in the early 1970s. We speak to Caroline Hunter, co-founder of the Polaroid Workers Revolutionary Movement, who stumbled upon evidence that her employer was providing the camera system to the South African state to produce photographs for the infamous passbooks for black residents. Hunter and her late husband, Ken Williams, then launched a boycott of the company. The boycott and divestment campaign ultimately grew to target other corporations in apartheid South Africa, including General Motors and Barclays Bank, among others. By 1977, Polaroid finally withdrew from South Africa.

Author: --

Obama Panel Said to Urge N.S.A. Curbs

WASHINGTON — A presidential advisory committee charged with examining the operations of the National Security Agency has concluded that a program to collect data on every phone call made in the United States should continue, though under broad new restraints that would be intended to increase privacy protections, according to officials with knowledge of the report’s contents.

The committee’s report, the officials said, also argues in favor of codifying and publicly announcing the steps the United States will take to protect the privacy of foreign citizens whose telephone records, Internet communications or movements are collected by the N.S.A. But it is unclear how far that effort would go, and intelligence officials have argued strenuously that they should be under few restrictions when tapping the communications of non-Americans abroad, who do not have constitutional protections under the Fourth Amendment.

U.S. Drilling And Fracking Boom Leaves Some Homeowners In A Big Hole

Dec 12 (Reuters) - When Gary Gless bought his sleek, modernist house in Los Angeles in 2002, he thought he had hit a "gold mine." The world's largest inner-city park - featuring a lush, 18-hole golf course - was about to get built across the street. Gless's balcony was set to overlook the clubhouse and first tee.

Today, instead of golf carts and fairways, Gless looks out on to drilling wells and oil pads. The park plan was ditched, and Freeport-McMoRan Oil & Gas LLC now operates 700 wells there - and 400 more are on the way. All the drilling, Gless says, has caused house foundations to crack and swimming pools to start to slide down hills.

The Six Worst Attacks On Reproductive Freedom In 2013

2013 hasn’t been a great year for reproductive rights. Ever since 2010, abortion opponents have imposed a flurry of state-level legislation intended to slowly chip away at abortion access, and that trend certainly continued this year.

But women’s health advocates also believe there was something different about 2013. This year, a far-right contingent of the anti-choice community appeared to abandon their incremental strategy — in which they undermine women’s access to abortion bit by bit, largely with indirect laws that don’t strike at the heart of Roe v. Wade — and get bolder. They started pushing for extremely harsh abortion restrictions that fly in the face of the constitutional right to choose, and they got more serious about shutting down abortion clinics one by one. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), lawmakers in more than 25 states proposed some kind of outright ban on abortion this year.

Prisoners 'damn well shouldn't' be given right to vote, says David Cameron

Prisoners "damn well shouldn't" be given the right to vote, David Cameron said as he called for the powers of European court of human rights to be restricted.

The prime minister reiterated on Friday his opposition to a legal attempt for suffrage, saying the final decision must lie with the UK parliament and not Europe.

The ECHR – which has ruled Britain's blanket ban on votes for convicted inmates is a breach of their human rights – has announced it is reopening 2,281 compensation claims by UK prisoners.

Uruguay's president José Mujica: no palace, no motorcade, no frills

If anyone could claim to be leading by example in an age of austerity, it is José Mujica, Uruguay's president, who has forsworn a state palace in favour of a farmhouse, donates the vast bulk of his salary to social projects, flies economy class and drives an old Volkswagen Beetle.

But the former guerrilla fighter is clearly disgruntled by those who tag him "the world's poorest president" and – much as he would like others to adopt a more sober lifestyle – the 78-year-old has been in politics long enough to recognise the folly of claiming to be a model for anyone.

Ukraine Protests: Court Releases All Demonstrators Arrested During Violent Police Crackdown

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — A leader of the massive anti-government protests in Ukraine's capital says opposition members will attend roundtable talks with President Viktor Yanukovych in order to push their demands for early elections.

The announcement by Vitali Klitschko came about 30 minutes before the talks, which also include religious, student and labor representatives, were to begin.

The opposition previously had rejected an invitation to the talks.

Klitschko said Friday that "We can get out of the crisis only through a change of power. We are demanding early elections for parliament and the president, and we are going to the roundtable with these demands."

Original Article
Author: AP

The Budget Deal Is a Big Win for the Pentagon

Until Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) rode to the rescue this week, Pentagon brass and their allies had been issuing dire warnings about the nation's military readiness: The armed services were being decimated, they said, by sequestration—the automatic budget cuts that were set to trim $1 trillion from the Pentagon budget over the next decade. "It's one thing for the Pentagon to go on a diet. It's another for the Pentagon to wear a straitjacket while dieting," grumbled Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.). The message got through: The House overwhelmingly approved the Ryan-Murray plan just two days after it was introduced.

Hunger strikers protest indefinite detentions in Lindsay, Ontario

"We are taking a stand. We want Immigration to know what’s going on. We want the public to contact Immigration Canada. We need the Canadian public to put pressure on the Immigration minister so they can stop this lengthy and cruel and unusual detentions." -- Martin Sisay, from inside Lindsay’s maximum-security prison

"I missed three of my sons birthdays, I missed three anniversaries with my wife…I can not see myself here being detained indefinitely and thinking about them. That will drive me crazy. So I have to keep it out of sight and out of mind. How inhumane is that. I am a father and I am a husband. Should I even be allowed to feel like this." -- Amin Mjasiri, from inside Lindsay’s maximum-security prison

Economics, labour and the miseducation of Stephen Harper and Tim Hudak

Tim Hudak is a great example of the damage a good education can do. So is Stephen Harper. Both are products of university economics departments in the late 20th century. Each has a proud M.A. in the field. Like their American cognate -- Paul Ryan -- they've chosen to implement economic policy with no or little experience in the work world. Hudak worked briefly at a low level for Walmart; almost an internship. Since then -- all politics.

Here's what they learned from courses in post-Keynesian, Friedmanite economics. It's pure theory. It says the world works best when everyone comes to market, like a little piggy, with whatever they have: money, skills, needs. They dicker and set prices for each other's stuff and the best possible outcome results. Anything that interferes with these individual interactions is a Bad Thing.

The racist idea of a 'war on Christmas'

As fall fades into the "holiday season," for years now we in North America have been forced to endure right-wing commentators, TV personalities and talk radio shows droning on-and-on about the supposed "war on Christmas." It is such a farcically and transparently false idea and yet it persists.

The "war" that is alleged is usually, according to the narrative, being fought on a few crucial fronts. The schools, where allegedly Christmas is "not allowed" anymore; workplaces, where allegedly people are being "forced" to say "happy holidays" and hide their "beliefs"; the retail stores where Christmas has been banished; and the government, which apparently is behind it all and is going to one day ban Christmas altogther.

Closing the income divide: The time has come to limit CEO over-compensation

Balsillie, Stronach, Desmarais, Thomson, Asper. Do these names sound familiar?

Indeed, they are the names of some of Canada's most successful business executives. It is undoubtedly true that their companies are vital to the Canadian economy. Together they are employing hundred of thousands of Canadians and competing with other companies internationally.

But what about their compensation? What about their responsibilities to make Canada a more "ethical businessplace"? What about their contributions to a less divided Canada where the rich are getting richer and the middle-class is losing its share of the economic pie?

Race to claim High Arctic's oil resources may be a fool's mission -- High Arctic is 'probably the most expensive place in the entire world to drill for oil'

When asked earlier this week about extending Canada's territorial claims in the Arctic, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird was clear about the rationale.

"We are determined to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the tremendous resources that are to be found in Canada's Far North," he said.

But while the federal government is eager to establish its claims to the polar seabed, some Arctic experts believe that Ottawa is putting too much stock in trying to reap the potential riches of such a harsh domain.

CSEC watchdog muzzled, defanged

The revelation that a little-known Canadian intelligence operation has been electronically spying on trading partners and other nations around the world, at the request of the U.S. National Security Agency, has critics wondering who's keeping an eye on our spies.

The answer is a watchdog, mostly muzzled and defanged, whose reports to Parliament are first censored by the intelligence agency he is watching, then cleared by the minister politically responsible for any problems in the first place.

By the time the reports reach the public, they are rarely newsworthy.

Cancer in developing world on the rise

There were an estimated 14.1 million new cancer cases worldwide in 2012, mostly in developing countries, according to a new report from the World Health Organization.

In comparison, in 2008 there were 12.7 million new cases cases, the WHO's International Agency for Research on Cancer said. About 8.2 million cancer-related deaths occurred in 2012 compared with 7.6 million in 2008.

Dr. David Forman is the head of the agency's cancer information section, which compiled the data.

As Jobs Dive, Clark's Natural Gas Dream Fades, Too

"Teach a parrot to say 'supply and demand,' and you have an excellent economist." -- Numerous attributions

"Typically when it comes to energy exports, it has been the seller that sets the prices." --
Premier Christy Clark quoted by Justine Hunter in the Dec. 10 edition of The Globe and Mail.

We could all get a good chuckle out of Premier Clark's failure to understand economics 101 if the consequences weren't so severe for B.C. She has staked her credibility on delivering liquefied natural gas (LNG) for B.C. on sufficient terms so as to pay-off all of B.C.'s government debt, including the debt of BC Hydro, BC Ferries and the Port Mann Bridge. All of that is to be done in less than 30 years! 

Opinion Spelling out the Destruction of BC Ferries' Pact with Islanders

Dictionaries -- loosely definable as collections of alphabetically-arranged words accompanied by their agreed-upon definitions -- have been known to humankind since 2300 BCE. Since then, they have come a long way. Tougher paper, more reliable ink, tighter binding, clearer wordage, and lately online access have made dictionary use a handy enterprise for third-graders, poets, and lawyers alike.

As someone who is in the business of writing I've personally found their functionality to be remarkable. So, for this holiday season I have resolved to donate a dictionary to people who seemingly can't afford one: BC Ferries and the Government of British Columbia. It's inspiring to think what they might learn. Words like:

Gay Rights and Putin’s Olympics

In Vladimir Putin’s Russia—official Russia—there is no controversy about the rights of gays and lesbians. Controversy suggests a serious clash of ideas and opinions; controversy suggests points of view that are in opposition and, potentially, subject to change. This is not the case when it comes to the human rights of homosexuals in Russia. In the Kremlin, in the parliament, in the courts, in the hierarchy of the Russian Orthodox Church, and on television there reigns a disdainful and intimidating unanimity: homosexuals are a threat to morality, to the family, and to the state. In the words of Masha Gessen, a journalist and longtime activist, “They want to throw us back in the closet.”

Unease among Brazil's farmers as Congress votes on GM terminator seeds

Brazil is set to break a global moratorium on genetically-modified "terminator" seeds, which are said to threaten the livelihoods of millions of small farmers around the world.

The sterile or "suicide" seeds are produced by means of genetic use restriction technology, which makes crops die off after one harvest without producing offspring. As a result, farmers have to buy new seeds for each planting, which reduces their self-sufficiency and makes them dependent on major seed and chemical companies.

Reformer or Hypocrite? Understanding Pope Francis

At first glance, Time magazine’s “Person of the Year,” Pope Francis, is a mess of contradictions. On the one hand, he has vehemently denounced the evils of global capitalism, calling it “a new tyranny.” However, as pontiff, he heads the Catholic Church, which has been characterized as “probably the wealthiest institution in the entire world.” And, although the pope has championed the importance of women in the Catholic Church, saying in an interview, “The woman is essential for the church. ... The feminine genius is needed whenever we make important decisions,” he continues to oppose as strongly as any pope before him the ordination of women, and considers abortion to be evil. How do we make sense of Pope Francis’ views?

Iceland Sends Four Bank Bosses to the Slammer

The onetime CEO of Iceland’s Kaupthing bank, one Hreidar Mar Sigurdsson, is going to jail for five and a half years for his part in his firm’s downfall—which also helped his country’s economy bottom out in 2008. He’ll be in good company.

Three other former high-level Kaupthing execs, including ousted board Chairman Sigurdur Einarsson, will join Sigurdsson for shorter stints in prison for aiding in the cover-up of a sham deal with a Qatari financier that sank the firm late that year.

Heroic Uruguay deserves a Nobel peace prize for legalising cannabis

I used to think the United Nations was a harmless talking shop, with tax-free jobs for otherwise unemployed bureaucrats. I now realise it is a force for evil. Its response to a truly significant attempt to combat a global menace – Uruguay's new drug regime – has been to declare that it "violates international law".

To see the tide turn on drugs is like trying to detect a glacier move. But moving it is. Wednesday's statute was introduced by the Uruguayan president, José Mujica, "to free future generations from this plague". The plague was not drugs as such but the "war" on them, which leaves the world's youth at the mercy of criminal traffickers and random imprisonment. Mujica declares himself a reluctant legaliser but one determined "to take users away from clandestine business. We don't defend marijuana or any other addiction, but worse than any drug is trafficking."

I thought I was liberal and open minded about race … until I realised what was going on in my New York building

The phone rings, and I look down to see that the front desk is calling me to let me know that a visitor has arrived. At New York my apartment, Friday night is wine night, my areligious mid-20s nod to Shabbat. There's no meal and no prayer, but I invite my friends over for wine, cheese, and conversation that becomes increasingly raucous as the night wears on and the wine runs out. And when the phone rings on wine night, when the front desk calls me to ask permission to send a visitor up, I know one thing for sure: that friend isn't white.

Welfare minister urges local councils to invest in food banks

The welfare minister, Lord Freud, has been accused of "rowing away from the principle of welfare" after he urged local authorities to invest money in food banks, saying that it was "absolutely appropriate" that charities provided free food parcels for people who could not afford groceries.

Freud made his comments at a conference on welfare reform, after being asked by an audience member whether it was sustainable that working people were increasingly turning to food banks and hardship funds to get by.

17% of World's Nations Hate Non-Believers

Then International Humanist and Ethical Union has just released its Freedom of Thought Report for 2013. According to the Freedom of Thought Report for 2013 (FOT), approximately 8 per cent of sovereign countries around the world treat non-believers as free and equal, 17 per cent actively persecute non-believers and 13 of the latter execute non-believers.

Canada falls into the largest category (38 per cent) as a country that systemically discriminates against non-believers (FOT 105). Others in that league include countries in all continents from Sweden (surprisingly) to Burundi.

Please Don’t Call it ‘Rape Insurance’: Michigan’s Anti-Choice Bill Hurts All Women

Last night Michigan’s legislature passed a measure banning coverage for abortion in private health plans. Women who want abortion coverage will have to buy an additional rider, essentially planning for an unplanned pregnancy. I understand why opponents of the measure are calling it “rape insurance”—there are no exceptions for rape and incest, and State Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer told her own story of sexual assault and how such a law would have impacted her if she had become pregnant as a result of the attack. It was a brave moment. But the term “rape insurance” does a disservice to women—and to the reproductive justice movement.

Associated Press Held CIA Scoop For 3 Years At The Government's Request

NEW YORK -- The Associated Press revealed Thursday that retired FBI agent Robert Levinson was working with the CIA at the time he went missing in Iran in 2007. The AP's explosive report on Levinson's CIA ties contradicted the U.S. government’s long-running contention that he was visiting Iran as a private citizen when he disappeared.

The AP acknowledged learning about Levinson’s ties to the CIA in 2010, but held the story at the government’s request while reporting details.

Bill Moyers: "That Sound You Hear Is the Shredding of the Social Contract"

I met Supreme Court Justice William Brennan in 1987 when I was creating a series for public television called In Search of the Constitution, celebrating the bicentennial of our founding document. By then, he had served on the court longer than any of his colleagues and had written close to 500 majority opinions, many of them addressing fundamental questions of equality, voting rights, school segregation, and—in New York Times v. Sullivan in particular—the defense of a free press.

Those decisions brought a storm of protest from across the country. He claimed that he never took personally the resentment and anger directed at him. He did, however, subsequently reveal that his own mother told him she had always liked his opinions when he was on the New Jersey court, but wondered now that he was on the Supreme Court, "Why can't you do it the same way?" His answer: "We have to discharge our responsibility to enforce the rights in favor of minorities, whatever the majority reaction may be."

Conservative Party loses almost 10,000 donors since January, opposition MPs say it's because of Senate expense scandal

PARLIAMENT HILL—The Conservatives lost almost 10,000 donors since the beginning of the year which indicates the Senate expenses scandal is hitting the party negatively, say opposition MPs.

NDP MP Pat Martin (Winnipeg Centre, Man.), chair of the House Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics Committee where NDP and Liberal MPs are attempting to force a review into the government’s management of emails related to Wright-Duffy affair that temporarily disappeared, said the drop in Conservative donations is “the best and most graphic illustration that their base really, really hates this … stuff.”

The battle at Canada Post and the future of our public services

The announcement that Canada Post Corporation will end home delivery in urban areas, increase the cost of postage and lay off between 8,000 to 10,000 employees over the next five years is shameful.

Management at the Crown corporation cites the decreasing volume of mail and the losses accrued since the lockout of 2011. Never mind the facts that before 2011 Canada Post was profitable for 16 straight years and in 2012 Canada Post reported a profit of $98 million. It is worth noting the financial woes have occurred precisely when management invested $2 billion in new equipment, instituted a number of structural and operational changes despite the clear signs that letter volume was decreasing.

The water justice movement tackles life after privatization

In Barcelona last week, 50 water justice activists, trade unionists, researchers and water operators from 29 countries gathered to share analysis and strategies aimed at promoting democratic public water and sanitation services. The groups are loosely affiliated through the Reclaiming Public Water Network, which met previously in 2011.

As Satoko Kishimoto of the Transnational Institute pointed out the global water justice network has won many struggles over the last decade including formal recognition at the United Nations of water and sanitation as human rights.

Canada's duplicitous economic policies supported apartheid South Africa

It's enough to make one who knows even a little history gag.

The death of Nelson Mandela has led to an outpouring of vapid commentary about Canada's supposed role in defeating South African Apartheid. "Canada helped lead international fight against Apartheid", noted a Toronto Star headline while a National Post piece declared, "Canada's stance against apartheid helped bring freedom to South Africa."

Doug Ford defends himself after handing out $20 bills to constituents

Doug Ford is being accused of “corrupt and corrupting” behaviour by a fellow city councillor for handing out $20 bills to constituents at a social housing complex for Christmas.

Councillor Gord Perks, who made the statement, is a frequent critic of Mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug. Mr. Ford was filmed by a CBC television crew Wednesday night at a Toronto Community Housing building in his Etobicoke ward distributing toys and peeling off $20s from a stack in his hand for the crowd.

CRTC To Probe ‘Unfair' Competitive Practices At Big Telecom

Canada’s telecom watchdog is launching an inquiry into whether the country’s big wireless carriers are trying to muscle out competitors by charging them excessive wholesale roaming rates — something some of the small wireless players have been arguing for years.

“Some of the large providers are charging, or proposing to charge, their smaller Canadian competitors significantly higher wholesale roaming rates than those charged to U.S.-based wireless companies,” the CRTC said in a statement Thursday.

Daniel Dale, Toronto Star Reporter, To Sue Rob Ford Over Pervert Accusation

Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale will sue Rob Ford for saying that the journalist took inappropriate photos of the mayor's children.

Ford made the accusation during a TV interview this week and repeated it on a U.S. radio show Thursday morning.

Star editor Michael Cooke, who has repeatedly said that it would be Dale's decision alone to pursue legal action, broke the news on Twitter Thursday afternoon.

Cooke said Dale will be supported by the Star, including with legal costs, The Globe and Mail reported. The suit is over "the vicious slander about Daniel Dale being a pedophile," Cooke said.

U.S. Ranks Near Bottom Among Advanced Nations In Efficiency Of Health Care Spending

While the great health care debate continues across the nation, a new study shows our struggles for health care go far beyond just the quarrels in Washington.

Researchers at McGill University and the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health analyzed the efficacy of health care systems across the world and found the U.S. ranks 22nd out of 27 high income nations when it comes to increasing life expectancy.

Robert Levinson, American Missing In Iran, Was Working For CIA

WASHINGTON (AP) — In March 2007, retired FBI agent Robert Levinson flew to Kish Island, an Iranian resort awash with tourists, smugglers and organized crime figures. Days later, after an arranged meeting with an admitted killer, he checked out of his hotel, slipped into a taxi and vanished. For years, the U.S. has publicly described him as a private citizen who traveled to the tiny Persian Gulf island on private business.

But that was just a cover story. An Associated Press investigation reveals that Levinson was working for the CIA. In an extraordinary breach of the most basic CIA rules, a team of analysts — with no authority to run spy operations — paid Levinson to gather intelligence from some of the world's darkest corners. He vanished while investigating the Iranian government for the U.S.

Budget Deal Shows G.O.P. Holds the Whip

As the full details of the two-year deal between Democrats and Republicans on taxes and spending emerged on Wednesday, liberal and centrist budget experts held their noses, and, with their other hands, gave it a reluctant thumbs-up. “The budget agreement between Senate Budget Committee Chair Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan represents an improvement over current law, albeit a modest one,” Robert Greenstein, the president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, said in a statement. “Some unhappy compromises had to be struck to make it happen,” commented Harry Stein and Michael Linden, of the Center for American Progress, “but the Murray-Ryan deal is certainly a better choice than further damaging our economy with another full year of sequestration.”

Dropping Unemployment Benefits 'Practically At The Level Of Immoral,' Pelosi Says

WASHINGTON -- House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that failing to rescue federal benefits for the long-term jobless would be practically "immoral," after an extension of the benefits was excluded from the bipartisan budget agreement announced earlier this week.

"It's interesting to note that [Republicans] rejected unemployment insurance," Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference on Capitol Hill. "This is so unconscionable, it's practically at the level of immoral to do to people who work hard, play by the rules, lose their job through no fault of their own are not able to continue getting unemployment insurance checks."

Stephen Poloz: Deflation A Risk To Canada's Economy

OTTAWA - Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz says he needs to keep interest rates at historically low levels to head off the risk of a deflationary trap that would have dire consequences for the Canadian economy.

The central banker told a business audience at the Canadian Club in Montreal on Thursday that it may take a couple of years before inflation returns to the two-per-cent target, which he called "sacrosanct."