Showing posts from August 31, 2015

Canada's prime minister wants to make it harder for people to vote against him

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[It's interesting how much of this commentary is coming from places like The New York Times and The Guardian. "It’s time for voters to refuse to be cowed, push through the obstacles and ensure the electoral crown is claimed by a candidate with a mandate from the people and not won through trickery and manipulation." *RON*]
Caroline Konrad, The Guardian, 28 August 2015

Acclaimed Canadian author Margaret Atwood faced censorship in the national press late last week for her satirical take on Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s hair. It might have been a rather amusing episode if it wasn’t symptomatic of darker, Orwellian trends that have marked Harper’s nine years in office.

Stephen Marche’s article in the New York Times mid-month does an excellent job of summarizing how Harper has pulled tight the reins of power, stifled criticism and eroded the freedoms of Canadians. But it is in the prime minister’s assaults on the most fundamental of dem…

Myanmar's president signs off on law seen as targeting Muslims

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[Where is the voice of Aung San Suu Kyi in all this? She has lost whatever moral authority she may have once possessed. *RON*]
Naypyidaw | BY Hnin Yadana Zaw, Reuters, 31 August 2015

Myanmar's president on Monday signed into law the last of four controversial bills championed by radical Buddhists but decried by rights groups as aimed at discriminating against the country's Muslim minority.

Myanmar, which will hold its first democratic national poll in more than two decades on Nov. 8, has seen a flowering of anti-Muslim hate speech since the military gave up full power and opened up politics and the economy in 2011.

President Thein Sein signed the Monogamy Bill after it was passed by parliament on August 21, Zaw Htay, a senior official at the president's office, told Reuters. The law was briefly sent back to parliament for review before being signed.

The bill sets punishments for people who have more than one spouse or live with an unmarr…

Canada has asked Egypt for Mohamed Fahmy’s deportation: wife

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[This is a very low profile story in the Canadian press. It's getting coverage in The New York Times and the BBC, but it appears to be invisible in the election campaign. *RON*]

The Canadian Press / Globe & Mail, 31 August 2015
The wife of a Canadian journalist imprisoned in Egypt says the Canadian Embassy in Cairo has applied to have her husband deported from the country.
An Egyptian court sentenced Mohamed Fahmy to three years in prison on Saturday — a verdict which shocked his family and led many international observers to call for his release.

It’s the second time Fahmy has landed behind bars in the same case. He was originally arrested in December 2013 with two colleagues while working for satellite news broadcaster Al Jazeera English and faced widely denounced terror charges.

He spent more than a year in prison before an appeal of his conviction resulted in a release on bail during a retrial that culminated in Saturday’s verdict.

His wi…

Harperman Case: Can Public Servants Be Political Activists?

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[This is part and parcel with Harper's extreme interpretation of 'representative government.' He grudgingly admits that people are allowed to vote but that, outside of this, people should shut up, get out of his way, and let the politicians who 'represent' us to get on with their job. *RON*]
CBC / Huffington Post, 30 August 2015

An investigation into an Ottawa federal scientist who wrote and performed an anti-Harper protest song and posted it to YouTube has sparked a debate about just how political Canada's public servants are allowed to be.

Tony Turner, a scientist in habitat planning at Environment Canada, was sent home on leave with pay pending a government investigation into the making of Harperman, a highly critical song about Conservative Leader Stephen Harper that has amassed more than 50,000 hits since June.

At issue is whether Turner violated the code of ethics that all public servants must adhere to — one that manda…

Jason Kenney Touts Broader Definition Of 'Recession'

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[Pathetic spin-doctoring. *RON*]
CBC / Huffington Post, 31 August 2015

Conservative candidate Jason Kenney laid the groundwork for a broader definition of "recession" just a few short days before GDP numbers for the second quarter of 2015 are set to be released.

"Most economists define a recession as a widespread downturn in the economy," Kenney told host Rosemary Barton on CBC News Network's Power & Politics on Sunday.

"What we know is we have a clear sectoral downturn in oil and gas, because of a 60 per cent decline in global prices for that commodity."

Traditionally, economists define a recession as two consecutive quarters with negative GDP growth. Canada's economy has contracted in each of the first four months of the year and Tuesday's GDP numbers will show whether that trend continued over the second quarter of 2015.

Kenney offered a different take on the R-word.

UN chief 'horrified' by latest refugee deaths, asks states to act with humanity

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["U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon plans a 'special meeting devoted to these global concerns' on Sept. 30, during the annual General Assembly of world leaders at U.N. headquarters." See also: Europe shouldn’t worry about migrants. It should worry about creeping fascism. *RON*]
By Associated Press, US News & World Report, 28 August 2015.
(Geneva AP) — Here are the latest developments Friday regarding the tens of thousands of migrants trying to reach Europe.

10 p.m.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he is "horrified and heartbroken" by the latest deaths in Austria and at sea.

In a rare statement issued under his name and not a spokesman, he stresses that a "large majority" of people undertaking such dangerous journeys are refugees who have the right to protection and asylum.

He calls on all governments to act with compassion and humanity.

Ban also says the conflicts and repression that force people t…

Uh-oh, Canada. China Pales as a Risk to U.S. Growth

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[Oh Mister Harper! Bloomberg thinks the sinking Canadian economy could be a bigger threat to the US economy thank the sinking Chinese economy! "The U.S. neighbor to the North could cool off momentum." *RON*]
Jeanna Smialek, Bloomberg, 28 August 2015

Canada probably experienced a technical recession in the first half of 2015, and the fact that the No. 1 U.S. export market is in a slump could spell bad news for growth in the world's biggest economy.

Canada's gross domestic product contracted for a second quarter in the three months through June, a Sept. 1 report will show, according to almost all economists in a Bloomberg survey. The economy probably shrank by 1 percent, even worse than the 0.6 percent first-quarter drop.

"When Canada hurts, U.S. exporters do, too," Bricklin Dwyer, an economist at BNP Paribas in New York, wrote in an Aug. 27 note to clients titled "Canada (not China) matters more."

The great blackout of '15! :-)

[Well, we finally have power back! *RON*]