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, February 23, 2015

Scott Walker’s cowardice should disqualify him

What Rudy Giuliani did this week was stupid.

What Scott Walker did ought to disqualify him as a serious presidential contender.

As the world now knows, Giuliani, the former New York mayor, said at a dinner featuring Walker, the Wisconsin governor, that “I do not believe that the president loves America.” According to Politico, Giuliani said President Obama “wasn’t brought up the way you were brought up and I was brought up, through love of this country.”

Addressing Population Growth - Through Freedom, Not Control - Is Crucial to Confronting Climate Disruption

"We have 225,000 people at the dinner table tonight who weren't there last night," William Ryerson, the president of the Population Institute told Truthout. "Population is the multiplier of everything else."

Every year, the world population's net growth is equivalent to adding a new Egypt.

Very often, arguments about overpopulation are used in defense of racist, sexist, classist and even genocidal policies, including killings, forced sterilization and the mass denial of reproductive freedom. And often, those arguments target black and brown people, particularly people in "developing" countries, centering the problem on "women having too many kids," rather than looking at what is actually having a significant effect on the planet, and how we can confront it humanely and in the service of real social and environmental freedoms.

Bill C-51 Will Make It Easier To Throw Canadians In Jail Without a Charge

In early February, Canada's Parliament voted down a bill to bring back the mandatory long-form census. The Conservative government's position was that the census was too intrusive. Remember that word: intrusive. Two weeks later they are arguing for the need of mass surveillance and other drastic civil liberty erosions that Bill C-51 brings. The inconsistency is disturbing when the intrusions of a census are deemed unacceptable while the disastrous privacy consequences of Bill C-51 are pushed as imperative.

The Conservative government first axed the mandatory long-form census in 2010, citing concerns about personal freedoms. Canada's then Industry Minster, Tony Clement, argued the census was intrusive to Canadians "who just want to be left alone a little bit."

New wrinkle develops in Tory plan to fast-track veterans into civil service

OTTAWA - Another wrinkle has developed in the Harper government's push to give veterans preferred status for federal jobs: for many reservists, not all of their military pension counts towards their eventual civil service retirement.

Beth Lepage, a former air force captain, said a portion of her Canadian Forces pension — accumulated as a part-time member — can't be converted because of a difference in the way government and military retirement benefits are calculated.

Lepage said she believes that will be a significant barrier to ex-soldiers with both full- and part-time service applying for federal jobs, a transition the Conservative government says it's eager to facilitate.

Former justices, PMs express concern over lack of anti-terror oversight

As a sweeping anti-terrorism bill winds its way through Parliament, former prime ministers and former Supreme Court judges are expressing concerns that Canada’s security agencies don’t have adequate checks and balances.

Last week, Parliamentarians debated Bill C-51, which gives more sweeping investigative powers to Canada’s security agencies, including the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Opposition Leader Tom Mulcair said last week that the NDP will not support the legislation, calling it “dangerous” and “over-reaching.”

"Mayor 1%" Rahm Emanuel of Chicago Faces Progressive Challenge in Heated Bid for Re-election

The battle between Rahm Emanuel — a Democrat known as "Mayor 1 Percent" — and a host of challengers has reached a fever pitch in Chicago. Emanuel is struggling to keep his seat when voters head to the polls on Tuesday. Opponents say he has failed to improve the city’s schools and address gun violence. Emanuel’s re-election campaign has the endorsement of his former boss, President Obama, and a war chest of more than $15 million — about four times the amount raised by his four opponents. Most of his funds come from about 100 donors. Emanuel’s closest rival is Jesús "Chuy" García, a county commissioner who has support from the Chicago Teachers Union and other labor and progressive groups. We speak with Rick Perlstein, a Chicago-based reporter and author of several books, including "The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan" and the bestseller, "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America."

Author: --

Russians Protest 'Fascist Coup' In Ukraine On Anniversary Of Yanukovych Ouster

MOSCOW (AP) — For the thousands of Russians gathered near Red Square on Saturday, Maidan — the square in Kiev synonymous with pro-European protests last year — is nothing to celebrate.

"Maidan is a festival of death ... Maidan is the smile of the American ambassador who, sitting in his penthouse, is happy to see how brother is killing brother ... Maidan is the concentration of everything anti-Russian ... Maidan is the embryo of Goebbels," the organizers of Russia's new Anti-Maidan movement shouted from the stage.

India Air Pollution Cutting 660 Million Lives Short By 3 Years

NEW DELHI (AP) — India's filthy air is cutting 660 million lives short by about three years, according to research published Saturday that underlines the hidden costs of the country's heavy reliance on fossil fuels to power its economic growth with little regard for the environment.

While New Delhi last year earned the dubious title of being the world's most polluted city, India's air pollution problem is extensive, with 13 Indian cities now on the World Health Organization's list of the 20 most polluted.

Jeb Bush’s Brainless Trust

WASHINGTON — I had been keeping an open mind on Jeb Bush.

I mean, sure, as Florida governor, he helped his brother snatch the 2000 election. And that led to two decade-long botched wars that cost tens of thousands of lives and trillions of dollars. The nation will be dealing for a long time with struggling veterans and the loss of American prestige. Not to mention that W. let Wall Street gamble away the economy, which is only now finally creeping back.

But, all that aside, shouldn’t John Ellis Bush have the right to make the case that he is his own man?

States Seek Alternatives For Highway, Bridge Funding

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Touted as one of the first interstate highways, a 200-mile span of Interstate 70 between suburban St. Louis and Kansas City stands as a prime example of the challenges facing the nation's roads.

Built in the 1950s and '60s with a 20-year-life expectancy, the four-lane highway is crumbling beneath its surface and clogged with traffic as it carries more than 30,000 vehicles a day on many of its rural stretches, requiring more frequent repaving. The cost to rebuild and widen it is estimated at $2 billion to $4 billion — as much as five times the projected yearly construction and maintenance budget of Missouri's transportation department.

Deeper Ties to Corporate Cash for Doubtful Climate Researcher

For years, politicians wanting to block legislation on climate change have bolstered their arguments by pointing to the work of a handful of scientists who claim that greenhouse gases pose little risk to humanity.

One of the names they invoke most often is Wei-Hock Soon, known as Willie, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who claims that variations in the sun’s energy can largely explain recent global warming. He has often appeared on conservative news programs, testified before Congress and in state capitals, and starred at conferences of people who deny the risks of global warming.

Scott Walker: 'I Don't Really Know' Whether Obama Loves America

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Friday continued to dance around controversial comments made by former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Asked whether he agreed with Giuliani's contention that President Barack Obama doesn't love America, a remark made at a private dinner for Walker in New York, the governor said, "I don't really know what his opinions are on that one way or another."

Benjamin Netanyahu Hires Top Defense Attorney For Possible Corruption Case

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has hired a well-known lawyer described in the Israeli press as a "specialist in white-collar crime" to represent him and his wife if they face criminal corruption charges. Jacob Weinroth is considered to be one of the country’s top defense attorneys.

The potential prosecution stems from a report published Tuesday by Israel’s state comptroller, accusing the Netanyahus of spending public funds in a way that “strayed from the cornerstone principles of financial management and the principles of proportionality, reasonableness, saving, and efficiency.”

So That Happened: Elizabeth Warren Secretly Met People All Over Washington

So, that happened. This week, the fight over President Barack Obama's immigration policy returns to the halls of Congress, with opponents of the president's executive actions threatening to cease funding for the Department of Homeland Security. Is this a smart idea? Of course not. But we'll talk about it as if it might make sense to someone.

The Wreckers' Grand Canyon Intentions

Twenty years ago, my friend Kevin and I piled our ragged belongings into the back of his Chevy beater and drove from Massachusetts to California. It was November and we were worried about weather, so we dove south and traversed the country in a giant loop. We stopped in DC to visit friends, stopped in Alabama to visit family, and stopped in New Orleans for a night that will live in infamy.

From there it was on to Texas to visit more friends...and after that, we were on our own - no more friends or family to offer a bed for the night - so we decided to bomb straight through the second half of the trip and not stop until we got to San Francisco.

Big Cities Head for Water Crisis as Populations Explode

LONDON—More than 40% of the world’s great cities supplied by surface water could become vulnerable to shortages and drought by 2040, according to new research. And more than three out of 10 were already vulnerable in 2010.

Meanwhile, the vital array of satellites designed to monitor rainfall and to warn of potential flooding is reported to be coming to the end of its shelf life.

For the first time in history, more than half the world’s population is now concentrated in cities, and this proportion is predicted to increase to two-thirds. Cities grow up near plentiful water supplies—and as a population explodes, so does demand. But the flow remains much the same.

Swimming With Sharks: Goldman Sachs, Schools and Capital Appreciation Bonds

The fliers touted new ballfields, science labs and modern classrooms. They didn’t mention the crushing debt or the investment bank that stood to make millions.

                — Melody Peterson, Orange County Register, Feb. 15, 2013

Remember when Goldman Sachs—dubbed by Matt Taibbi the Vampire Squid—sold derivatives to Greece so the government could conceal its debt, then bet against that debt, driving it up? It seems that the ubiquitous investment bank has also put the squeeze on California and its school districts. Not that Goldman was alone in this; but the unscrupulous practices of the bank once called the undisputed king of the municipal bond business epitomize the culture of greed that has ensnared students and future generations in unrepayable debt.

Troika Deal Drives Greece Back Toward Austerity

“The rightwing orthodoxy that dominates thinking in Brussels has asserted itself over the hapless Greeks,” writes economics correspondent Phillip Inman at The Guardian.

“A deal that allows the eurozone policymakers, the International Monetary Fund and the government of Athens to keep talking next week is the first stage in a clampdown on anti-austerity sentiment,” Inman continues:
Greece has many enemies inside the eurozone. The countries that have suffered Brussels-inspired austerity – Portugal and Ireland – and those that have played a role in enforcing it – the Germans, Dutch and Finns – all want the radical leftwing Syriza-led government in Athens to stick with the programme. France and Italy might have been courted by the Greeks and proved reliable allies, but they stand meekly on the sidelines offering warm words and little else.
For the right-of-centre parties that control Portugal, Ireland and probably more importantly Spain, which is also under serious threat from an anti-austerity party, the need to keep Greece in check is driven by domestic politics. Any sense that austerity was ever wrong or that it delayed the recovery, as Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis argues, would undermine their authority and hand the intellectual higher ground to rival parties.
So Varoufakis’s first demand for a debt writedown was dismissed. Then his attempt to win a bridging loan, separate from the existing bailout deal, was trashed. Decisions to suspend privatisations were frowned on. Now he must use what money is available to shore up Greek banks.
“Where have we heard before that banks must come first?” Inman asks.

Read the details of who got what in the Greece-Troika deal in an article by Raoul Ruparel, head of Economic Research for Open Europe, here.

Original Article
Author: Alexander Reed Kelly.

Scott Walker’s Latest Anti-Union Plan Is ‘Cowardly,’ Says Former Republican Leader

Wisconsin Republicans are forging ahead at breakneck speed with a bill meant to cripple the state’s unions. Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) said Friday he would sign the “right-to-work” bill after lawmakers called an extraordinary session to push the legislation through next week.
“Right-to-work” laws are designed to severely weaken unions by forcing them to provide services without payment from workers. While Republicans argue the laws free workers from union dues and make businesses more competitive, evidence from other states that have implemented similar laws paint a bleak picture. A report from the Economy Policy Institute found that all workers, regardless of whether they belong to a union, lose an average of $1,500 a year in wages as a result of these laws. States with right-to-work laws also tend to see less upward mobility than the rest of the country.

How Coal-Loving States Are Waging War on Obama's New Climate Rules

This week, representatives from the state-level agencies that manage electric grids met in Washington, DC, for a collective freak-out about President Barack Obama's flagship climate policy. The Clean Power Plan, as it's called, aims to slash the nation's carbon footprint 30 percent by 2030. It would require every state to reduce the carbon "intensity" of its power sector—that is, how much greenhouse gas is emitted for every unit of electricity produced.

There's a unique reduction target for every state, and a likewise diverse array of things for state regulators to hate: They argue the plan is a gross overreach of federal authority; that it will bankrupt utility companies, drive up monthly bills for ratepayers, and lead to power shortages; that states won't be adequately credited for clean-energy steps they've already taken; and that the deadlines for compliance are just downright impossible to meet. And coal companies are justifiably worried that the plan could kill their business.

Canada Considers Taking Fight Against ISIS To Libya, Syria

Defence Minister Jason Kenney has indicated the government is not ruling out taking Canada's military mission against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group beyond Iraq — to Syria and Libya.

Evan Solomon, host of CBC Radio's The House, asked Kenney about participating in missions in those countries.

"Well, we're going to look at all of the options," Kenney said an interview broadcast Saturday.

"Obviously there are practical limits to our ability to operate around the world, but we will look at our options to see where we can have the most impact, where we're most needed," he said. "That requires ongoing consultation with our allies. We don't just decide these things unilaterally."

Ralph Nader tells Stephen Harper to stop acting like George W. Bush

February 18, 2015
The Right Honourable Stephen Harper, P.C., M.P.
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister:
Many Americans love Canada and the specific benefits that have come to our country from our northern neighbor’s many achievements (see Canada Firsts by Nader, Conacher and Milleron). Unfortunately, your latest proposed legislation—the new anti-terrorism act—is being described by leading Canadian civil liberties scholars as hazardous to Canadian democracy.

Money and influence cast long shadow over province's decisions on Fraser River, records suggest

Scientists say money and connections have too much power in B.C. politics, following the green-lighting of a controversial gravel mining project on the Fraser River expected to have serious impact on sturgeon and salmon habitat.

Asked whether political contributions may have influenced the approval, former provincial biologist Marvin Rosenau responded:

"Is the Pope Catholic? I am not trying to be trite, but the history of Fraser River gravel removal has been one of constant and intensive political interference from the gravel interests in the eastern Fraser Valley."

How ISIS-Allied Militants Gained Ground In Libya

Militants linked to the Islamic State group released a gruesome video on Sunday showing the beheadings on a Libyan beach of 21 Coptic Christians from Egypt. The brutal murders once again put the spotlight on the power vacuum in the North African nation and have raised concerns the failing state is proving to be fertile ground for extremist groups.

Saturday's killings weren't the first by Libyan fighters claiming allegiance to the Islamic State group, which has taken over parts of Iraq and Syria. IS-linked militantsclaimed responsibility for the January attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli, which left 10 people dead. They also claimed a role in the murder of more than a dozen soldiers and the execution of two Tunisian journalists, The Guardian notes.

Can You Identify These Participants of South Korean Trade Trip?

If news organizations want to know what companies sent representatives on a recent government trade mission to South Korea, they'll have to look at a group photo and figure it out for themselves.

On Feb. 5, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade issued a release predicting success for International Trade Minister Ed Fast on his five-day trip that began Feb. 8. About 100 Canadian business delegates participated.

The trip comes months after Canada sealed a free trade deal with the Asian country.

''Now on a level playing field with global competitors, Canadian businesses are eager to seize new opportunities created by the coming into force of the Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement,'' said the release.

Illinois Governor Seeking To Raid Higher Education Budget A Month After Being Sworn In

Higher education is set to take a major hit in Illinois.
Following similar announcements by the Republican governors of Wisconsin andLouisiana, newly-sworn in Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner released what he called a “turnaround” budget, that would slash nearly $209 million from the University of Illinois.
“It’s time to make education our top priority again – and that’s what this budget does,” he told lawmakers Tuesday night, touting his plan to give about $25 million more to early childhood education. “With reform, we will be able to invest more in education and give our kids world class schools.”

Families Whose Lives Were Destroyed By Sandy Blast Christie’s Presidential Hope

Stoking anticipation that he will launch a 2016 presidential campaign, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) urged a conservative audience in New Hampshire this week to watch his YouTube videos to understand the full picture of who he is as a person and a state leader. On his YouTube page, Christie frequently appears wearing his signature fleece and speaking on boardwalks across the state on various occasions — including the first and second anniversary of Superstorm Sandy — about New Jersey’s ability to recover from the devastating hurricane.

Kinder Morgan President Says B.C. Spill Plan Doesn't Need To Be Public

VANCOUVER - An emergency response plan for the proposed $5.4-billion Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will remain secret in British Columbia — even though a similar plan was recently made public in Washington state.

Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson defended his company's decision to publish a heavily redacted version in B.C., saying disclosure of the plan wasn't required by the National Energy Board.

Prime minister a no-show at Commons' anti-terror debate

Despite hailing new anti-terror legislation as fundamental to the fight against “the most dangerous enemies our world has ever faced,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper did not attend either of two days of debate on the bill in the House of Commons this week.

Bill C-51 is expected to head to committee Monday after the Conservative government voted to limit the hours allotted in the Commons on what Justice Minister Peter MacKay called an “important debate (over) …. extraordinary powers.”

The federal Liberals have said they will back the far-reaching legislation, which would expand the mandate and power of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, criminalize the promotion of terrorism, share Canadians’ personal information more easily across government, make it simpler for police to arrest and detain individuals without charge as suspected national security threats, and other measures. A recent poll showed a strong majority of Canadians back the bill; most also want robust oversight of it.

CSIS watchdog agency starved of staff, resources

The independent watchdog Stephen Harper points to as providing the necessary oversight of Canada's spy agency, CSIS, is operating with fewer resources than it had when his government took power nearly a decade ago.

"We already have a rigorous system of oversight on our national security and police agencies," the prime minister told the Commons earlier this month.

"Specifically on intelligence, we have the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which is a robust mechanism for independent, expert, third-party oversight. It functions very well."

White House Looks To Undercut Netanyahu Speech

WASHINGTON (AP) — In what is becoming an increasingly nasty grudge match, the White House is mulling ways to undercut Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming trip to Washington and blunt his message that a potential nuclear deal with Iran is bad for Israel and the world.

There are limits. Administration officials have discarded the idea of President Barack Obama himself giving an Iran-related address to rebut the two speeches Netanyahu is to deliver during his early March visit. But other options remain on the table.

When Dad Was VP, Jeb Bush Lobbied The Administration For A Medicare Fraudster

WASHINGTON -- Jeb Bush personally lobbied the secretary of health and human services, while his father was vice president, on behalf of a Miami figure who would later flee the country accused of one of the greatest Medicare frauds in the program's history.
Bush pressed then-HHS Secretary Margaret Heckler to give the man's HMO a waiver so that it could accept larger sums of Medicare money than it otherwise would have been allowed, Heckler told The Huffington Post.
Miguel Recarey Jr., head of the health maintenance organization International Medical Centers (IMC) who often boasted of connections to the Miami Cuban mafia, paid Bush $75,000 in the mid-1980s. Bush has acknowledged receiving the payment but said it was tendered for real estate consultation. But the deal he consulted on was never closed.

Ukraine Denouement: The IMF’s One-Two Punch

The fate of Ukraine is now shifting from the military battlefield back to the arena that counts most: that of international finance. Kiev is broke, having depleted its foreign reserves on waging war that has destroyed its industrial export and coal mining capacity in the Donbass (especially vis-à-vis Russia, which normally has bought 38 percent of Ukraine’s exports). Deeply in debt (with €3 billion falling due on December 20 to Russia), Ukraine faces insolvency if the IMF and Europe do not release new loans next month to pay for new imports as well as Russian and foreign bondholders.

Finance Minister Natalia Yaresko announced on Friday that she hopes to see the money begin to flow in by early March. But Ukraine must meet conditions that seem almost impossible: It must implement an honest budget and start reforming its corrupt oligarchs (who dominate in the Rada and control the bureaucracy), implement more austerity, abolish its environmental protection, and make its industry “attractive” to foreign investors to buy Ukraine’s land, natural resources, monopolies and other assets, presumably at distress prices in view of the country’s recent devastation.

If Congress Passes Obama’s War Request, It Authorizes Operations in All These Countries

President Obama has asked Congress for a three-year war authorization to combat “ISIL or associated persons or forces,” regardless of where those forces may be. There are no geographic limitations in Obama’s proposal.

The White House has a straightforward explanation for why: “…if we pass a piece of legislation that says Congress has authorized the President to carry out the use of military force against ISIL targets in Iraq and in Syria, we don’t want anybody in ISIL to be left with the impression that if they moved to some neighboring country that they will be essentially in a safe haven and not within the range of United States military capability,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “So that is why we’ve been clear about not including a geographic limitation in this proposal.”

Premier Christy Clark Has Left Us No Choice

Dear Premier Christy Clark,

I'm having a hard time finding these choices you keep telling me I have. You say that you'd rather I have money in my pocket so that I can choose what to do with it. You say that you want your B.C. government to be accountable to taxpayers like me but I'm having difficulty understanding what you mean about choices and being accountable.

I really wish I could enjoy the choices you say I have. Please help me to find them. All I seem to be able to find are all the things I didn't choose.

Exponential Rise In War Crimes In Syria, UN Panel Warns

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. investigators said Friday they are considering publishing their secret list of alleged war criminals in Syria to press for justice for the thousands of victims.

In a strong indication that they will do just that, the investigators expressed hope that releasing the names would put alleged perpetrators of torture, executions and kidnappings "on notice," act as a deterrent and help to protect people at risk of abuse.

CNRL's Steve Laut Says Oilsands Face 'Death Spiral' If They Don't Cut Costs

As the world’s oil glut continues to build, wiping out hopes of a price recovery, the head of one of Canada’s largest oilsands operators is warning the industry faces a “death spiral” if it doesn’t figure out how to cut costs.

Speaking before the Chamber of Commerce in Fort McMurray, Steve Laut, president of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL), said oilsands companies can still return to health, but only if they aggressively begin to cut costs.

Off with their heads! Exposing the new feudalism

Every so often, a cluster of news stories combine to become more than the simple sum of their parts. In the last few weeks, stories have emerged that reinforce the argument made by some academics and commentators suggesting that the West, including Canada, is beginning to devolve into a kind of new feudalism. First up the revelations, leaked by an insider, that Swiss banking giant HSBC actively facilitates gross tax evasion on the part of the world's wealthy and also launders billions in drug money.
Second, we have been provided a window on the heart-stopping corruption and moral turpitude of (at least some of) the global political elite through revelations that former IMF chief Dominique Gaston André Strauss-Kahn (I'm not making that up) -- the same guy accused of raping a New York hotel maid who settled out of court -- is now charged with "aggravated pimping" for providing prostitutes for sex orgies. This is the man who was once destined to be the French Socialist Party's presidential candidate.

Daniel Ten Oever, boy with autism, put in handcuffs for throwing chairs

The parents of a nine-year-old boy who has autism are angry Ottawa police handcuffed their son after he reportedly threw chairs inside the principal's office.

Officials told Daniel Ten Oever's parents, Dan Ten Oever and mother Stephanie Huck, that the boy threw the chairs in St. Jerome Catholic School on Thursday.

A female Ottawa police officer then responded and put handcuffs on Daniel to restrain him, the parents told CBC News.

Trudeau says Harper’s pandering to fear of Muslims unworthy of a PM

OTTAWA - Justin Trudeau says Stephen Harper is pandering to fears about Muslims with his insistence that no one should be allowed to wear a veil while taking the oath of Canadian citizenship.

The Liberal leader says Harper's stance — which the Conservative party has enthusiastically embraced to rally support, raise money and pad its voter data base — is unworthy of a prime minister in such a diverse, multicultural country.

Harper sparked the criticism after vowing last week to appeal a court ruling that allowed a Muslim woman to take the citizenship oath without removing her niqab, a religious face-covering garment that leaves only the eyes exposed.