Sexist Asses on Michelle Obama.

(cross-posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

I'm pissed.  And for that reason I cannot really formulate a coherent response to this pile of fail:

[partial transcript starting about 1:45] Mohr: I'd like to talk about the basketball playoffs, I'd like to talk about "King" [LeBron] James, this guy could actually be greater than Michael Jordan. I'd like to talk about Kevin Garnett. This guy's the Michelle Obama of the Celtics: he doesn't really do anything, but damn, he looks good, doesn't he, Jim? Michelle Obama--that is a big dude. When Barack plays pick-up games at the White House, you know he picks Michelle as at least his forward, maybe his [center], depending on who's in Congress that day. That has to be like being married to Elton Brand. She is a big. dude. I like when she put her arm around the Queen of England and she put her in a headlock and told her, "I've been waiting 200 years to put my arms around you, lady!" I love that. I like how she shaved off all her eyebrows, and then drew them back way too high into an arch and then straight back down, so she always looks super surprised. She kinda--Michelle Obama kinda looks like the Count on Sesame Street, that's great. [mimicking the Count] "One, ah, ah, ah. One black President, ah, ah, ah."

Luckily though, there are a couple of people that have an appropriate reaction.

Holly over at Feminste writes:

Real classy way to treat the First Lady -- but if you ask me, Jay Mohr has always been about as funny as a week-old sack of dead rats. He's clearly whipping out his most tired material for Rome's sports-radio army of clones, too. Scott Madin noted over at Shakesville that there are even more racist, transphobic jokes (somehow related to steroids and gynecomastia, I guess?) later on in the clip, at about 3:30.

Over at Shakesville Madin handily notes:

Rome's website is here, and it looks like at least one of his features is sponsored by Chevy. According to Wikipedia, he's syndicated by "Premiere Radio Networks, a subsidiary of Clear Channel Communications," and also hosts a show on ESPN. Judging from the clip, I'm guessing writing to Rome's show will not be productive, but contacting Clear Channel, ESPN, and/or advertisers (in a quick search I wasn't able to find out anything about other advertisers, but Chevy's contact page is here) might be more effective.

Nothing funnier than a dash of transphobic misogyny?

There's more...

The Rich Are Different.

(cross-posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

There is nothing new about it - but here's more proof - that the poor are the most generous givers.

America's poor donate more, in percentage terms, than higher-income groups do, surveys of charitable giving show. What's more, their generosity declines less in hard times than the generosity of richer givers does.

"The lowest-income fifth (of the population) always give at more than their capacity," said Virginia Hodgkinson, former vice president for research at Independent Sector, a Washington-based association of major nonprofit agencies. "The next two-fifths give at capacity, and those above that are capable of giving two or three times more than they give."

Indeed, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics' latest survey of consumer expenditure found that the poorest fifth of America's households contributed an average of 4.3 percent of their incomes to charitable organizations in 2007. The richest fifth gave at less than half that rate, 2.1 percent.

In terms of income, the poorest fifth seem unlikely benefactors. Their pretax household incomes averaged $10,531 in 2007, according to the BLS survey, compared with $158,388 for the top fifth.

In addition, its members are the least educated fifth of the U.S. population, the oldest, the most religious and the likeliest to rent their homes, according to demographers. They're also the most likely fifth to be on welfare, to drive used cars or rely on public transportation, to be students, minorities, women and recent immigrants.

However, many of these characteristics predict generosity. Women are more generous than men, studies have shown. Older people give more than younger donors with equal incomes. The working poor, disproportionate numbers of which are recent immigrants, are America's most generous group, according to Arthur Brooks, the author of the book "Who Really Cares," an analysis of U.S. generosity.

What makes poor people's generosity even more impressive is that their giving generally isn't tax-deductible, because they don't earn enough to justify itemizing their charitable tax deductions. In effect, giving a dollar to charity costs poor people a dollar while it costs deduction itemizers 65 cents.

Which leads to the natural question some might be asking themselves- why are generous people poorer than stingy ones?

There's more...

Pig Panic!

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

For the last few days I have been glued to my TV, washing my hands compulsively and been trying to stand a safe distance away from people.  Not that its helped much since, in my city there are 4 confirmed cases of swine flu today.  

At the same time as the Toronto cases were confirmed, Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, was busy suggesting that President Obama was to blame for the swine flu crisis. Bachmann implied that swine flu epidemics are a Democratic phenomenon that date back to President Carter.

"I find it interesting that it was back in the 1970s that the swine flu broke out then under another Democrat president Jimmy Carter. And I'm not blaming this on President Obama, I just think it's an interesting coincidence."

Sadly Bachmann's facts are not quite right. As Republican President Gerald Ford, not Carter, was in office during the last outbreak of the virus.

In the meantime, before you get back to stockpiling water, vaccinations and food, you may want to take a look at this.

There's more...

A Gay Rain Army.

There is a storm being caused by gay marriage and we are all in serious trouble.

Better get under the umbrella.

There's more...

Mea Culpa on Palin: She Sucks.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

Matt - one of the reasons I started my site is because I know so many on the so-called left who secretly admire Sarah Palin for various reasons but can't reconcile it politically or acknowledge it publicly.

There are a LOT of us.

I think there is a way to do both - critique her whackadoodle aspects and enjoy other things about her, the diva/pretty tomboy notwithstanding.

She is something totally new down here. I'd rather deal with it than try and repress it away, because we know where repression lands us.

Plus, she's just flat out totally sexy. Just because I say so doesn't mean I'm ever going to vote for her lol

Well - that pretty much sums up how I felt about Sarah Palin up until about 5 minutes ago. True that I often cringed with the winking, Clinton references and the strange phrasings - but usually it was with a smile.  I despised the sexism Palin was a subject to and was saddened to see my fellow progressives go so far astray from their values when it came to 'Bible Spice' and 'Caribou Barbie.'

But it would appear that I was dead wrong about this horrible person.

Wayne Anthony Ross, her choice for attorney general, has an alleged fondness for rape jokes and doesn't like homosexuals.

Ross, who once described gay people as "immoral degenerates," was quizzed this week about how he would view cases involving homosexuality as the state's top legislator.

"Let me give you an analogy -- I hate lima beans," Ross told a legislative hearing into his nomination.

"I've never liked lima beans. But if I was hired to represent the United Vegetable Growers, would you ask me if I liked lima beans? No. If I disliked lima beans? No. Because my job is to represent the United Vegetable Growers."

A letter from Leah Burton, a lobbyist on children's issues and domestic violence, has caused an uproar, hogging headlines and infuriating some of Alaska's most outspoken bloggers, who play a critical role in reporting politics in the remote and far-flung state.

Burton alleges that in 1991, she heard Ross say at public meeting that domestic violence "wouldn't be an issue if women would learn to keep their mouth shut."

At the hearing, Ross denied making that statement, and also denied making the suggestion in the same conversation that it was acceptable for a man to rape his wife.

For the sake of Alaskans I only hope that she is out of office soon enough. To my fellow progressives - I apologize for the folly of my ways.

There's more...

Rush Limbaugh: Ignore the Attention Whore.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

Everywhere I turn it seems Rush Limbaugh is. Much as I try and avoid the inanity, he is everywhere.  Say for instance even today, I was reading an article about Michael J. Fox and Parkinsons's disease, and wouldn't you know it...

Fox writes in Always Looking Up of getting painted with the crude brush of U.S. political discourse. In the summer of 2006, he was appalled to see George W. Bush exercise the first veto of his presidency to kill a bill that would have permitted funding for embryonic stem-cell research.

Vowing it wouldn't happen again, Fox turned his office into the headquarters of a co-ordinated effort that promised to throw its weight behind any candidate in that fall's midterm elections - Democrat or Republican, House member or Senate hopeful - who supported the research. He appeared at rallies, raised funds and filmed commercials for candidates. And then, in mid-October, Rush Limbaugh attacked Fox for an ad made on behalf of a Democratic candidate in which the right-wing radio host said Fox was "exaggerating the effects of the disease."For good measure, Limbaugh even imitated Fox's dyskinisias, rolling from side to side and waving his arms in the air, and added, "It's purely an act."

In short order, Limbaugh had his ass handed to him on a plate, as experts and Parkinson's patients scolded him for his ignorance. And Fox was given the platform of a lengthy interview with Katie Couric on the CBS Evening News in which he kept to the high road, helping to move attention from Limbaugh and himself to open up a broader debate about stem-cell research.

"It almost in a way lightened the moment for me, because I kind of went: 'Oh, is it this predictable, is it this cartoonish, that you have to dehumanize the messenger?' " Fox recalls with a kind of glee. "And then it became this wonderful thing, because there was something karmic about the fact that the conversation got hijacked, and they spent the last two weeks [of the campaign] talking about.

Who would have expected Rush Limbaugh to become a national figure and the "official opposition" to the Obama administration? Garnering more attention than the Republican party's actual leadership?  As Rush himself says on his website:

"There is a 'consensus' among the American people, who have made this the most listened to program, that it is also the most accurate, most right, and most correct.  People who disagree with this are Rush Deniers."

Really? What's interesting is that Limbaugh's 'dirty little secret' is becoming public, namely that he is not quite as 'in demand' as many would have you believe.

That's obviously not it. OK, so why IS his show so "popular?" Why do hundreds of stations around the country carry his show, the most widely syndicated talkfest in the country?

Glad you asked.

The real story is not generally well-known. The only reason I know is through my covering the business of radio for years for several major daily newspapers and also, for industry trade magazines like Radio World.

It's because -- ready for this? -- Rush's show was, and presumably still is, given away for free to many local radio stations.

This shocker is because of a little-known practice in broadcast syndication called a "barter deal." (Barter deals were briefly mentioned in Michael Wolff's first-rate recent piece on Rush in Vanity Fair).

Here's how a barter deal works: To launch the show, Limbaugh's syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks -- the same folks who syndicate wingnut du jour Glen Beck -- gave Limbaugh's three hours away -- that's right, no cash -- to local radio stations, mostly in medium and smaller markets, back in the early 1990's.

So, a local talk station got Rush's show for zilch. In exchange, Premiere took for itself much of the local station's available advertising time (roughly 15 minutes an hour) and packed the show with national ads it had already pre-sold.

Well, well, well - that explains a lot. And of course - Rush is on one side of the Republican civil war brewing...

But I guess this begs the question, are we making Rush relevant by paying him attention like others publicitiy whores in his brethren?  

I think so.  

There's more...

NY Attack - Taliban Connection?

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

A gunman, reportedly an immigrant from Vietnam, took hostages and opened fire in a U.S. immigration center in New York yesterday. 13 people were killed. The man later killed himself.

After the incident, Pakistani Taliban militant leader Baituallah Mehsud claimed credit for the attack.  Reuters reports:

"Pakistani Taliban militant leader Baituallah Mehsud claimed on Saturday responsibility for an attack on a U.S. immigration center in New York state in which 13 people were killed.

"'I accept responsibility. They were my men. I gave them orders in reaction to U.S. drone attacks,' Mehsud told by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Reports claim the FBI have ruled out the Taliban's responsibility in the attack and a Fox Pakistani security analyst "dismissed Mehsud's claim as a publicity stunt." 

What do you think?

There's more...

CEOfail: Frank Stronach.

"This is a corporation that finds itself in financial distress due to recklessness and greed, a lot of these people should be fired, not awarded a bonus. This is horrible. It's outrageous." President Obama

Amidst a global economic meltdown in which millions have lost their, homes and hope - corporate greed continues.

Even though I believe in capitalism its crystal clear that the guys and gals that got us into this mess still don't have a clue.  That's right - I'm talking about executives who do not care/understand the implications of taking large bonuses without regard to what it will do to the economy as a whole and are certainly a major factor in getting the world into this mess.

As many Canadians nurse their post-New Year's Eve hangovers and ponder what further economic storms await, Canada's top corporate executives can take some comfort in knowing they have already earned as much as the average worker will earn in all of 2009.

A new analysis by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives concludes the country's richest corporate executives will have pocketed an average of $40,237 by (January 1, 2009) 9:04 a.m. Friday morning.

"By the time your computer has finished booting up on your first day back after the New Year's holiday, the average CEO would have already banked what took the average Canadian worker an entire year's worth of work to earn," the report states.

"Many of the top 100 include Canada's big bank CEOs, who recently received billions in federal government bailout money to purchase mortgage loans."

Prepared by economist Hugh Mackenzie, the report finds the top 100 CEOs of publicly traded corporations averaged more than $10 million in pay apiece in 2007, the last full year for which figures are available.

That kind of money would buy 44 high-end Porsches or five $2-million condos.

The collective billion-dollar bonanza -- a 22 per cent increase over the year before -- set a record and followed a decade of unprecedented pay increases, the analysis finds.

Roger Martin, dean of the Rotman School of Management, said the gap between low-end and highest-end earners began growing in earnest in the 1980s and accelerated in the 1990s, something Martin attributed essentially to greed.

The question for CEOs changed from how much they felt they needed to earn to how much could they could "possibly extract" from their companies, an attitude detrimental to the company and their employees.

"Rank-and-file employees will increasingly feel like, `Wow, I'm working hard to make that guy really, really rich. Do I like that?"' Martin said.

The report is based on disclosures made by companies trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange. The compensation includes salaries, bonuses, proceeds from stock options and other payouts.

That's it - I've had enough.  

Most of the population kind of has a feeling about the shadiness of these crooks executives - but they are sketchy on the details.  So here is my challenge to my fellow citizens/bloggers.  

Let's expose them.  

Let's get the word out on each and every one of these people who's greed helped to bring down the economy on our backs while they lined their pockets. A sort of pay-it-forward to reveal and ridicule the arrogance of those executives that are damaging us all with their greed run amok.

I will start it off below on one of the biggest offenders - but to ensure that we get the message out and get no duplication - I ask that if you decide to help - please follow this format:

1) Keep the titling. Eg. CEOfail: [CEO of choice]

2) Leave me your email address/link to your post at my blog - http://kickinitwithcg.blogspot.com/ so that I can compile them all.

3) Make it good.

CEOfail: Frank Stronach.

Frank Stronach is an Austrian-Canadian businessman. He is the founder of Magna International, an international automotive parts company based in Aurora, Ontario, Canada, and Magna Entertainment Corp., which specializes in horse-racing entertainment.

Magna is Canada's largest automobile parts manufacturer, and one of the country's largest companies. It also owns the successful Magna Steyr automobile production company of Austria. Founded in 1957 by Stronach as Multimatic, the company merged with Magna Electronics in 1969, and the combined company became Magna International in 1973.

Magna manufactures auto parts that are primarily supplied to General Motors, Ford Motor Company, and Chrysler LLC. In addition to the Big 3 automakers, Magna's major customers include Volkswagen, BMW and Toyota. In Europe, Magna Steyr holds contracts for the assembly of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Chrysler Voyager minivan and BMW X3 SUV. Magna has a relatively minimal presence in Asia with just 3 manufacturing centres in South Korea, 1 in Kunshan,China and 2 engineering centres in South Korea and China.

On Feb. 27, 2009 - Magna International Inc. announced a controversial decision to cut its dividend in half. The move angered some shareholders, but the Canadian parts maker said the cut was prudent given the tough times in the auto industry.

That explanation fails to account for one thing: Over the nine months prior, Magna bought two golf courses from an entertainment company run by Chairman Frank Stronach, spending $84 million on the purchases. That surpasses what was saved by the dividend cut. "That's our Frank," says Claude Lamoreaux, chief executive of the Toronto Teachers Pension Fund, which now has less than 1% of Magna stock after dumping a chunk of it last year. "He's a successful entrepreneur, but then you have these transactions that many people find questionable." Outside investors weren't the only ones anxious about the business practices of Stronach, whose company has emerged in the winter as a leading candidate to buy Chrysler Group. In May, four longtime board members (out of 12) will be resigning.

A close look at Magna reveals a complex and interesting company. True, Stronach is a brilliant entrepreneur who delivers results. The company made $528 million last year on revenues of $25 billion, even as many parts makers succumbed to bankruptcy.

But there's another side to Magna's indomitable chairman, a side some investors don't like. Although Stronach owns just 5% of the common stock, he controls the business outright, with 67% of the Class B voting stock. Critics complain he is overpaid and uses his power to approve rental agreements and other real estate deals between Magna and companies he controls. Board members say they've had to wrestle with Stronach to keep Magna from diversifying away from the parts business and into riskier ventures such as Stronach's passion, Thoroughbred racing. "It wasn't just one thing," says the departing Richardson. "You're constantly in a position of having to look out for the shareholders. They don't have a loud voice."

While he is respected in the auto industry, Stronach has few fans in the corporate governance movement. He started Magna in a garage 50 years ago and has been known to take a cavalier attitude toward complaints. When shareholders challenged his salary in 2004, he told Toronto's Globe and Mail: "It's a free country. If they don't like it, they should sell their shares."

Ah - the salaries.... Considering he's a Canadian titan and the founder of the largest auto-parts manufacturer in the world, Frank Stronach makes a surprisingly modest salary as the chair of Magna International. In 2007, for example, he pulled down a base of $215,000.  

But wait.

Since 2002, including bonuses and payouts - Stronach has paid himself $168 million, for an average of nearly $34 million a year, according to the company's annual reports. His pay amounts to 3% of profits in a typical year. In 2007, Stronach took home $40.6 million for business development, consulting and other services, according to a company information circular released.  That's $40 million in consulting fees to one man in one year, or about $800,000 per week.  But that's not all. Stronach also exercised $27.3 million in stock rights and was paid $2.47 million in "other" consulting fees, bringing his total compensation package to $70.6 million in 2007 alone. That's set a new Canadian record, eclipsing the previous mark of $58.1 million held by none other than Frank Stronach.  Magna's stock value shrank by 15.45 percent over the same period.

In the circular, the company's corporate governance and compensation committee said Stronach deserved the money. Even though he's a part-timer now, Stronach continues to play a pivotal role in all aspects of the company, including international expansion, product innovation and relationships with unions.

"The committee continued to recognize that Mr. Stronach continued to have business activities unrelated to Magna, but that this does not detract from the quality and value of his ongoing contribution to Magna," said the report.
An odd comment, given that Stronach is under fire precisely because his other business activities are, at least to some shareholders, too related to Magna.

For years, Stronach has been using the profits from MI Developments, Magna's real-estate arm, to prop up his money losing racetrack business, Magna Entertainment. Stronach is also chairman of both those companies.
Stronach came forward with a proposal this week to spin off Magna Entertainment. It's a complicated three-way transaction, a few components of which have met with opposition from some shareholders.

Under Stronach's plan, Magna would guarantee a $1-billion loan to a new company that would replace MI Developments as the landlord for many of Magna's factories. Some analysts say that's not a good use of Magna's balance sheet.

And one MI Developments shareholder says the deal would effectively result in Stronach getting a $300-million payout.
"We do not understand how this deal can be justified," said David Green of Hotchkis and Wiley in a statement. "The transfer of approximately $300 million, greater than 20 per cent of the stock's current market cap, to Frank Stronach in order for him to now support the deal is appalling. We strongly object to this transaction in its current form and intend to vote our shares against it.

But here is where it gets even more appalling...  A few days ago:

Magna is asking employees who are not already doing part-time work to take voluntary pay-cuts based on the size of their salaries in an effort to cope with the recession.

Magna is asking all European employees who are not in part-time work to do so, but the request affects 3,500 of them in Styria. Some 4,000 Magna employees at Graz and Albersdorf are doing part-time work that has effectively lowered their incomes by 10 per cent and will not be asked to take voluntary pay-cuts.

This is just one in a series of Magna plant shut downs or job losses across the world.  And last week - it was reported today that Magna International had "taken an axe to executive pay." It didn't.

In 2009, company officials will not take home as much as they have in other years, but not because of any cuts agreed to by management. In fact, if truth be told, the Magna gang will get more than can be justified by the Magna constitution, which has been used so well to justify past compensation levels.

Magna has long justified its huge executive paycheques, not to mention the mountain of cash it hands out to part-time chairman and controlling shareholder Frank Stronach, by noting executive compensation is tied to a fixed percentage of pretax profits by the so-called Magna Carta. Nobody has cut that percentage. What has happened is that Magna's pre-tax profits have been hit hard by economic turmoil and exposure to the fate of Detroit's Big Three.

During tough times, Magna executives are supposed to live off their salaries, which are still a significant six figures. The salaries have not been cut, either. Instead, the company is topping them up because performance pay has tanked with profits and Magna now insists that its officials, including Stronach's daughter Belinda, should not be forced to live up to the spirit of the constitution.

Stronach loves to boast about being different. He has repeatedly insisted that the big payouts only happen at Magna when there are plenty of pre-tax earnings to distribute to executives, workers, investors and society. But under the direction of lead director Mike Harris, who took home more than $600,000 last year for being a self-proclaimed slave to the Magna constitution, the rules have been changed to ensure Magna executives don't have to survive on less than seven figures. That's despite all the money they accepted under constitutional rules in the past.

Stronach himself isn't getting a top-up, which he would not deserve. After all, his real role at Magna is to make sure that the executives and directors he put in place live by the constitution that justifies his dual-share powers and multi-million-dollar consulting fees.

If an executive can rake-in millions of dollars in compensation regardless of performance, what's his personal incentive to make his company profitable? We see athletes whose performance languishes after signing guaranteed contracts. If pay, pensions and perks are equally guaranteed, should we be surprised to see CEO's doing the same?

There's more...

Canadian Disgrace: Migrant Nannies & Caregivers.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

Migrant nannies and caregivers in Canada are falling through the cracks of numerous federal and provincial government departments. In a recent series of stories the Toronto Star exposes unscrupulous and unregulated recruiters who exploit nannies and other domestic caregivers by luring them to Canada with false promises of nonexistent jobs, charging extortionary fees and confiscating their passports.  

A recent editorial asks:

You have to wonder: If there were fly-by-night recruiters scamming prospective construction workers or oil rig roughnecks from overseas, would the government be ignoring these rogue agencies while merely punishing the illegal labourers?

I'd bet no.

But what if those foreign workers were women, whether from the West Indies or the Philippines, who disappear into middle-to- upper class homes for minimum wages and maximum hours as nannies and domestic workers?

Today, according to documents obtained by Brazao and Cribb, Canada Border Services Agency officials actually acknowledge that there is "ongoing fraud and misrepresentation," but the federal government is doing nothing.

Nothing.

So vulnerable women, isolated and frightened, are forced to give up their passports and their pitiful wages to some 20 Toronto-area agencies and individuals suspected of abuse and fraud until those illegal fees are paid off.

Meanwhile, their families back home starve.

That's if the victims aren't deported, burdened by crushing debt.

And yet the practice continues, right under our noses.

Is this the government's solution to the daycare crisis in this country?

To date, most of the foreign caregivers in Canada are from the Philippines. While the Filipino consulates try to help abused workers, they are powerless to enforce Canadian labour laws and standards.

Tears flowed down her cheeks, but Maribel Beato didn't let go of the microphone. "My employer cared more about the dog than me," said Beato, a nanny who had a horrific experience with a North York family last year.

The family dog bit her three times but she wasn't allowed to seek medical help, she said.

When she decided to quit eight months later, the employer wanted her to sign a paper that said the family wasn't responsible for the dog attacks. "I was told I won't get the record of employment or T4 if I didn't."

She didn't get the papers.

Ontario's lack of regulation of nanny recruiters contrasts dramatically with Manitoba's tough stance against fraudulent agencies. Legislation set to take effect April 1 in Manitoba bans agencies from charging placement fees to foreign nannies, beefs up enforcement and requires every agency to be licensed by the province.

Further, the Manitoba legislation portends that nanny recruiters must be members in good standing of a Canadian law society, the Chambre des notaires du Québec or the Canadian Society of Immigration Consultants. Names of all licensed recruiters and agencies will be posted on a provincial website so families can be sure they're dealing with a legitimate operator.

Provincial Labour Minister Peter Fonseca has repeatedly avoided this issue however. Confronted by opposition MPPs in the Legislature, he passed the buck onto the federal government. When reminded by reporters that other provinces have begun to ban recruitment fees for foreign workers, Fonseca grudgingly agreed to contact Manitoba's labour ministry to learn more about its planned April 1 crackdown.

A member of Fonesca's own Liberal caucus, Mike Colle, has upstaged him by introducing a private member's bill that, like Manitoba, bans fees paid by workers (which are also illegal in the Philippines).

"The exploitation of vulnerable foreign workers by unscrupulous recruiters cries out for government intervention," said Colle when introducing the bill this week. It's a cry that Fonseca and his labour ministry, set up 90 years ago to protect workers, have shut out for too long.

Meanwhile Federal Immigration Minister Jason Kenney recently acknowledged the problem and is looking to "blacklist" unscrupulous nanny recruitment agencies that exploit foreign caregivers in an attempt to put them out of business.  Kenney added that the move is among a series of reforms he is considering to the federal Live-in Caregiver program.

It is an outrage that these injustices continue to take place and that both the federal and provincial governments have turned a blind eye to exploitation and abuse.

There's more...

Arab Summit: Mass Murderers Shouldn't Be Celebrated.

(cross posted at kickin it with cg and motley moose)

The Arab League Summit planned for Qatar this weekend seems fated to go down in the history books, but for the worst possible reason. Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, embraced Sudan's resident Omar al-Bashir as an honoured guest today as he arrived to attend the Summit in a brazen act of defiance against an international arrest warrant on charges of war crimes in Darfur.

On March 4, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant for al-Bashir's arrest on for "directing attacks against an important part of the civilian population of Darfur, Sudan, murdering, exterminating, raping, torturing and forcibly transferring large numbers of civilians and pillaging their property."

Given a red-carpet welcome:

Wearing a traditional Sudanese robe and white turban, a smiling al-Bashir was greeted at the airport with an embrace and kiss by Qatar's emir. They later had coffee with the head of the Arab League, Amr Moussa.

It was a low-risk trip for al-Bashir with high symbolic value for his Arab backers, who argue that carrying out the ICC's arrest would further destabilize Sudan as the Darfur conflict between the Arab-led government and ethnic African rebels enters its seventh year.

Only Jordan and two other tiny Arab League members, the Comoros and Djibouti, are party to the ICC charter, but can take no action on Qatari soil. Arab foreign ministers have endorsed a draft resolution for the summit rejecting the ICC's arrest warrant.

ICC prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has said that al-Bashir should be arrested once he leaves Sudanese airspace, but it was unclear whether any military forces were monitoring his flight. The United States does not recognize the ICC's jurisdiction, citing fears that Americans would be unfairly prosecuted for political reasons. But President Barack Obama earlier this month denounced the "genocide" in Darfur.

The Sudanese government's battle against rebels in the western Darfur region has killed up to 300,000 people and driven 2.7 million from their homes since 2003, according to the United Nations.

Clearly, no Arab leader is keen to accept the precedent the ICC set when it issued its warrant.  But even a club of kings, strongmen and despots shames itself by breaking bread with a man accused of murder, transfer, torture and rape.

Al-Bashir has no business being in Qatar, especially considering that planned peace talks with Khalil Ibrahim, the head of Darfur's strongest rebel group, have fallen through. Ibrahim cancelled on Friday after al-Bashir expelled aid groups such as Oxfam, Save the Children, CARE and Médecins Sans Frontières that care for people in Darfur, where 4.7 million rely on aid for food, shelter, water and protection.

Expelling these aid groups marks a new low in the war al-Bashir's Arab-led regime in Khartoum has been waging against ethnic African insurgents since 2003. As many as 300,000 people have been killed and nearly 3 million have been driven from their homes.

These dismal developments should galvanize U.S. President Barack Obama to step up pressure on the Khartoum regime, even though George Bush's, Obama's predecessor refused to back the ICC.

Al-Bashir should be arrested when he ventured outside the Arab League zone. China, his powerful patron, should withdraw its support. The United Nations/African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan should be reinforced with troops and equipment, so that it can protect civilians. Sanctions should be tightened on al-Bashir and his cronies. Donors should carefully re-evaluate the $1 billion aid operation in Darfur, as relief agencies are expelled. The arms embargo on Sudan should be expanded. And the U.S. and its allies should impose a no-fly zone in Darfur, to prevent al-Bashir's air force from bombing civilians.

Al-Bashir said contemptuously that the ICC "can eat" its warrant. For Darfur's sake, he must be made to swallow those words.

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Diaries

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