Americas

Sunday, 17 January 2010 18:00 Roger Annis Editorial Dept - Americas
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On February 12, the corporate sporting behemoth known as the 21st Winter Olympic Games will open to great fanfare in Vancouver. In a time of economic hardship and government cuts to social programs across Canada, huge sums of public money have been spent to stage this uber spectacle.

Billions of dollars have been spent constructing venues, a new convention center and airport terminal; widening and paving untold kilometers of roads and highways; building a hugely expensive rapid transit line connecting the city’s airport to its downtown; and erecting new hotels to serve the influx of corporate sponsors and spectators.

The hotel, travel, restaurant and real estate industries hope to make a killing off the influx of out-of-town spectators and partygoers. Construction companies have already earned hundreds of millions of dollars during the years of preparation furiously pouring concrete and asphalt. The official line says there will also be lots of long-term tourism dollars to be made, though this has not happened in other host cities.


Some of the world’s largest corporations are Games sponsors, including Coca-Cola, VISA, General Electric, Samsung, and MacDonald’s. Canadian sponsors include the Royal Bank, Petro Canada, Hudson’s Bay Company and Bell. The scale of their participation during the two weeks of competition is such that they have booked entire hotels and restaurants to cater to their executives, invited guests, and assorted hangers-on.
 

 
Thursday, 14 January 2010 18:00 Ron Marr Editorial Dept - Americas
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Among Other Things - So let me get this straight. Barack Obama wants to tax fifty banks, each with more than fifty billion dollars in assets, in order to make up for a shortfall in the 700 billion dollar bailout (Troubled Asset Relief Program . . . aka: TARP) authorized by George Bush? This, despite the fact that the majority of banks which received an infusion of TARP funds have already paid back the money, with interest?

Wow, he's a financial genius.

The fact of the matter, if anyone cares to look into this and acknowledge the truth, is that the vast majority of the 117 billion dollar shortfall that Obama claims he wants to recover for "The American People," is not owed by the banks.


General Motors and Chrysler LLC owe 66 billion dollars of the total, and they are not subject to the tax (even though they are losing money hand over fist, and will need more taxpayer infusions to survive). The insurance conglomerate, AIG, owes about 70 billion of it. They would have to pay the tax, but Obama conveniently neglected to mention them in announcing his plan.
 

 
Monday, 28 December 2009 18:00 Frank Fourchalk Editorial Dept - Americas
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B.C.Cabinet Minister Colin Hansen who is responsible for the 2010 Winter Olympics assured us in July, 2006 there will be no cost overruns for security during the "Mega Event". Adding to his financial assessment was the fact that Athens and Turin, although spent more on security, used their budgets to build new police stations and upgrade equipment. 

He assured us this would not be the case in Vancouver, so the $175 million budgeted for "Security" would be enough. This figure was determined after round table discussions with delegates from future and potential host cities.

So what happened? The latest figures for the Olympics' security budget is $900 million and climbing. How could there be such a huge shortfall. Back In the fall of 2001, Government of Canada departments and agencies began working with the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation to determine preliminary cost estimates for security and policing at the 2010 Games. 

Strategic planning for security began immediately following the July 2003 announcement that Canada would host the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games. These efforts were led by the RCMP Integrated Security Unit.

 

 
Friday, 11 December 2009 18:00 Malalai Joya Editorial Dept - Americas
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I have just completed a two-week speaking tour across Canada, bringing a message to the great people of this country: The people of Afghanistan are fed up with the occupation of their country and with the corrupt, Mafia-state of Hamid Karzai and the warlords and drug lords backed by NATO.

On behalf of the suffering people of Afghanistan, I offer my condolences to the families here who have lost their loved ones. I believe these fallen soldiers, themselves, are the victims of the wrong policy of your government.

The families of Afghan civilians killed in this war share your feelings of loss. If we turn these sorrows into strength, we can end this war. Bringing the troops home at the end of 2011 is too late; the troops should be withdrawn as soon as possible, before more Afghan and Canadian lives are needlessly lost.


Today, it has become an open secret that the Canadian government of Stephen Harper has been complicit in the torture of countless innocent Afghans. This is just one reason people in Kandahar and across my country are tired of this war.
 

 
Wednesday, 09 December 2009 18:00 Jennifer Chrisler Editorial Dept - Americas
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In light of continuing delays in the House of Representatives, we must state clearly and unequivocally: Passing basic job protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people must happen now.

At a time when our government is deeply focused on the critical issue of employment, it is inexcusable to delay action on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). Each and every job lost to prejudice based on sexual orientation and gender identity needlessly compounds the unemployment challenges facing our nation. We call on Congress for the immediate passage of ENDA.


For decades now, we have called upon Congress to pass legislation to address the basic right of LGBT people to work free from discrimination at our jobs, and now Congress tells us we must wait another year. In 29 states, it remains legal to fire people based on sexual orientation and in 38 states, discrimination based on gender identity remains legal.

In failing to take swift action to pass ENDA, our government allows unfettered bigotry to go unchecked, leading to the loss of jobs, fear in the workplace, economic instability, and personal hardship, while allowing employers to lose competent experienced workers. ENDA is urgently needed by our communities.

 

 
Monday, 16 November 2009 19:00 Ron Marr Editorial Dept - Americas
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I woke up this morning and stretched my aching limbs. You see, I’ve been running the chain saw quite a lot recently, bringing in the wood that will keep me from freezing during what promises to be a cold and wet Ozark winter.

I engage in this task not just for myself, and not just for the benefit of Boris, my blind and ancient Alaskan malamute. Hardly . . . I am imbued with a much greater purpose, an overwhelming sense of global obligation.

Despite the pain of stiff muscles, I was filled with a sense of joy. You see, as I do every morning, I quickly punched in a few numbers on my official, wind-powered, Obama-brand, stimulus calculator. I realized that by the act of slicing up trees I had saved or created countless jobs.

What’s more, my trusty Husqvarna chain saw – named Dexter – had furthered this process due to his razor-sharp chain and 46cc engine. Such largesse, the boon to humanity that has come with embracing the mathematical equation for survival bestowed upon us by the anointed Obama (may his feet be clad in slippers of armadillo fur) made me smile.

 

 

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