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Flaherty says U.S. budget crisis could push Canada into a recession

The Canadian Press

By Julian Beltrame, The Canadian Press | The Canadian Press – 16 hours ago November 8 2012

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Reuters – Canada’s Finance Minister Jim Flaherty takes part in a news conference in Ottawa June 21, 2012. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

OTTAWA – Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is urging U.S. politicians to get back to work quickly on resolving their budget crisis now that the election is over, warning that failure would plunge both America and Canada into recession.

The minister has voiced concern before about the so-called “fiscal cliff” — reached if there is no deal to extend about $600 billion in tax cuts and spending beyond this year — but the re-election of both Democrat President Barack Obama and a Republican-dominated House on Tuesday has stoked new fears of the risk becoming reality.

“Of course we’re worried because it would mean, were the entire fiscal cliff risk to come to reality … (it) would put the U.S. economy into a recession quite quickly and the Canadian economy would follow shortly thereafter, and would have a significant effect on the global economy,” Flaherty told reporters Wednesday.

In a later interview on CBC, Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney also stressed the importance of avoiding the fiscal cliff, suggesting Canadian policy-makers — including he and Flaherty — have the option of resorting to “Plan B” if the cliff happens.

“We can have Plan B, we can provide stimulus. We can provide stimulus on the monetary side, the government could take measures,” he said.

“We’re going to watch this closely. We’ll react if necessary, but we’re not going to react to a hypothetical.”

Flaherty said all his colleagues at the G20 meeting of leading economic powers last weekend in Mexico expressed concern about how U.S. policy-makers would deal with the threat.

North American markets also seemed to take the prospect seriously. The Dow Jones Industrials plunged more than 300 points at one point before recovering slightly. There as also a significant, but more modest, sell-off in Toronto.

Flaherty’s comments came amid warnings that gridlock in Washington could allow about $600 billion in tax cuts and spending programs to lapse in the new year. That would represent about a four percentage point hit to an economy only growing at two per cent.

Economists have considered the issue a no-brainer, but Obama and the Democrats have insisted that taxes on the rich rise as part of the deal, something Republicans have balked at the past two years.

Analysts have interpreted the re-election of Obama to the White House as having increased the odds against a deal before Jan. 1, in part because of the aggressive tactics employed by House Republicans in the past.

TD Bank deputy chief economist Derek Burleton said if policy-makers don’t reach a compromise, Canada would likely be impacted through reduced exports to an America back in recession, and a loss of confidence that would likely depress business investment.

While Canada is broadening its exports markets, about 70 per cent of shipments still head south of the border.

“The risks that the U.S. economy will fall off the looming fiscal cliff and fall back into recession is one of the top risks facing Canada’s economy as we head into 2013,” Burleton said.

NDP and Liberal party leaders echoed the concerns, agreeing that Canada and the world would be negatively impacted by a sharp contraction in the U.S., still the world’s largest economy.

The problem, said Liberal Bob Rae, is that there is little Canada can do except root that U.S. policy-makers get their act together in time.

Flaherty said avoiding the crisis won’t be easy, given the gridlock in Washington, but noted his Conservative government operated for five years as a minority.

“It’s not always easy but it can be done.”

The minister said he plans no course change in Canada, saying his eyes are fixed on implementing the March budget and eliminating the deficit in the next few years.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2012 in Current Events

 

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So Obama Wins the Election. What Does It All Mean?

  • by Jeff Fecke  November 6, 2012  8:21 pm
  • This article originally published in Care2 
  •  

    obamawins01

    President Barack Obama made history Tuesday night, becoming the first African American to be re-elected President of the United States.

    Obama defeated former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who had argued that Obama was to blame for the pace of economic recovery after the 2008 financial meltdown. Obama’s win was a stamp of approval for the president, who has argued that his policies have been helping the economy recover from the worst financial downturn since the Great Depression.

    Obama’s win also represents a huge victory for the civil rights of women, LGBT individuals and immigrants, and likely cements into law the Obamacare health care reforms, which Romney had pledged to repeal.

    Moreover, Obama’s victory was a triumph over a policy of obstruction from the Republican Party, that began the night of his inauguration and continued throughout his first term.

    Health Care Now Secure

    Perhaps the most significant policy impact of Obama’s victory is the long-term health of the Affordable Care Act, which goes fully into effect in 2014. Republicans had promised to repeal the measure, but with Obama having won, they will be unable to do so before the law is enacted, and before many of its best features go into effect. Obama’s victory also ensures that mandates for coverage of contraceptives for women will continue, a mandate Romney had promised to overturn.

    Obama’s victory also means that changes to Medicare that had been championed by Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., are unlikely to be enacted. Ryan, the vice presidential candidate for the Republicans, had argued that Medicare should become a voucher program, which risked ultimately raising the cost of health care for people who qualify for the program. Obama has been steadfastly opposed to any major changes in the Medicare program, and has instead pushed for cost control measures based on improving efficiency in the system.

    Women, LGBT, Immigrant Rights Safe

    Obama’s victory also keeps abortion rights secure for the next four years. The Supreme Court currently has a 5-4 majority in favour of choice, and there was fear that Romney could have appointed a justice to tip the balance against abortion rights. Obama’s victory also ensures that his executive order extending temporary amnesty to undocumented immigrants brought into the country as children will be allowed to stand.

    Obama also will continue to be a strong advocate for LGBT rights. It was not a major issue during the campaign, but Obama campaigned as a supporter of same-sex marriage, and has won re-election with that as his policy. His administration is likely to continue to push for the extension of rights to LGBT individuals, something that a Romney administration certainly would have opposed.

    “Fiscal Cliff” Looms

    The first major test for the newly-elected president is the so-called “fiscal cliff” — the combination of expiring Bush tax cuts and mandated cuts in spending set to occur before the end of the year. Obama has been clear in arguing that he will not accept the extension of tax cuts for the most wealthy. Republicans have demanded extension of all cuts, but with Obama winning re-election, it is hard to see how they would be able to force him to accept that extension.

    Nevertheless, the negotiations represent a danger for all sides. Economists have warned that if all spending and tax policy continues unchanged that it could have a catastrophic effect for the economy, potentially throwing the country back into recession. Both Obama and Republicans will have strong incentive to find a solution that works for all sides.

    Overcame Obstruction

    There is no guarantee that the fiscal cliff can be avoided, of course. Obama’s victory is made more impressive by the fact that Republicans had worked to defeat him since the very beginning of his presidency. At one point, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., even said that the most important goal of Republicans was to ensure that Obama lost re-election.

    That has meant that Republicans have opposed Obama at all turns, from refusing to support a stimulus package in the depths of the Great Recession to forcing cloture votes on nearly every major piece of legislation to wind its way through the Senate.

    Republicans bet on the idea that by throwing enough sand in the gears and making it hard for Obama to govern, they could ensure his defeat and the resurgence of the Republican Party. They lost that bet. Now comes the question: Will Republicans seek to double down on the same strategy? Or will they work with a president who has won re-election despite their best efforts — especially now that the president cannot seek re-election again?

    The next two years, certainly, will be defined by the way Republicans choose to answer that question. One thing is certain: whichever way they choose to answer, they will still have to deal with the man they sought to sandbag.

    Image Credit: Christopher Wiggins 

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    Posted by on November 7, 2012 in Current Events

     

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    Armstrong to be stripped of titles, banned for life

    Armstrong Doping USADA Cycling
    The U.S. Anti-Doping agency takes bold action after the cyclist says he will stop fighting accusations

    USADA to strip Lance Armstrong of 7 Tour titles
    By JIM VERTUNO (AP Sports Writer) | The Associated Press – 9 hours ago

    AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — With stunning swiftness, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency said Thursday night it will strip Lance Armstrong of his unprecedented seven Tour de France titles after he dropped his fight against drug charges that threatened his legacy as one of the greatest cyclists of all time.

    Travis Tygart, USADA’s chief executive, said Armstrong would also be hit with a lifetime ban on Friday. Under the World Anti-Doping Code, he could lose other awards, event titles and cash earnings while the International Olympic Committee might look at the bronze medal he won in the 2000 Games.

    Armstrong, who retired last year, effectively dropped his fight by declining to enter USADA’s arbitration process – his last option – because he said he was weary of fighting accusations that have dogged him for years. He has consistently pointed to the hundreds of drug tests he passed as proof of his innocence while piling up Tour titles from 1999 to 2005.

    ”There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’ For me, that time is now,” Armstrong said. He called the USADA investigation an ”unconstitutional witch hunt.”

    ”I have been dealing with claims that I cheated and had an unfair advantage in winning my seven Tours since 1999,” he said. ”The toll this has taken on my family and my work for our foundation and on me leads me to where I am today – finished with this nonsense.”

    USADA reacted quickly and treated Armstrong’s decision as an admission of guilt, hanging the label of drug cheat on an athlete who was a hero to thousands for overcoming life-threatening testicular cancer and for his foundation’s support for cancer research.

    ”It is a sad day for all of us who love sport and athletes,” Tygart said. ”It’s a heartbreaking example of win at all costs overtaking the fair and safe option. There’s no success in cheating to win.”

    Tygart said the agency had the power to strip the Tour titles, though Armstrong disputed that.

    ”USADA cannot assert control of a professional international sport and attempt to strip my seven Tour de France titles,” he said. ”I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours, and everyone I competed against knows who won those seven Tours.”

    Still to be heard from was the sport’s governing body, the International Cycling Union, which had backed Armstrong’s legal challenge to USADA’s authority and in theory could take the case before the international Court of Arbitration for Sport.

    Tygart said UCI was ”bound to recognize our decision and impose it” as a signer of the World Anti-Doping Code.

    ”They have no choice but to strip the titles under the code,” he said.

    USADA maintains that Armstrong has used banned substances as far back as 1996, including the blood-booster EPO and steroids as well as blood transfusions – all to boost his performance.

    The 40-year-old Armstrong walked away from the sport in 2011 without being charged following a two-year federal criminal investigation into many of the same accusations he faces from USADA.

    The federal probe was closed in February, but USADA announced in June it had evidence Armstrong used banned substances and methods – and encouraged their use by teammates. The agency also said it had blood tests from 2009 and 2010 that were ”fully consistent” with blood doping.

    Included in USADA’s evidence were emails written by Armstrong’s former U.S. Postal Service teammate Floyd Landis, who was stripped of his 2006 Tour de France title after a positive drug test. Landis’ emails to a USA Cycling official detailed allegations of a complex doping program on the team.

    USADA also said it had 10 former Armstrong teammates ready to testify against him. Other than suggesting they include Landis and Tyler Hamilton, both of whom have admitted to doping offenses, the agency has refused to say who they are or specifically what they would say.

    ”There is zero physical evidence to support (the) outlandish and heinous claims,” Armstrong said. ”The only physical evidence here is the hundreds of (doping) controls I have passed with flying colors.”

    Armstrong sued USADA in Austin, where he lives, in an attempt to block the case and was supported by the UCI. A judge threw out the case on Monday, siding with USADA despite questioning the agency’s pursuit of Armstrong in his retirement.

    ”USADA’s conduct raises serious questions about whether its real interest in charging Armstrong is to combat doping, or if it is acting according to less noble motives,” such as politics or publicity, U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks wrote.

    Even if UCI and USADA differ on the Tour titles, the ultra-competitive Armstrong has still done something virtually unthinkable for him: He quit before a fight is over.

    It was a stunning move for an athlete who built his reputation on not only beating cancer, but forcing himself through grueling offseason workouts no one else could match, then crushing his rivals in the Alps and the Pyrenees.

    ”Today I turn the page. I will no longer address this issue, regardless of the circumstances,” he said. ”I will commit myself to the work I began before ever winning a single Tour de France title: serving people and families affected by cancer, especially those in underserved communities.”

    Armstrong could have pressed his innocence in USADA’s arbitration process, which would have included a hearing during which evidence against him would have been presented. But the cyclist has said he believes most people have already made up their minds about whether he’s a fraud or a persecuted hero.

    Although he had already been crowned a world champion and won individual stages at the Tour de France, Armstrong was still relatively unknown in the U.S. until he won the epic race for the first time in 1999. It was the ultimate comeback tale: When diagnosed with cancer, doctors had given him less than a 50 percent chance of survival before surgery and brutal cycles of chemotherapy saved his life.

    Armstrong’s riveting victories, his work for cancer awareness and his gossip-page romances with rocker Sheryl Crow, fashion designer Tory Burch and actress Kate Hudson made him a figure who transcended sports.

    His dominance of the Tour de France elevated the sport’s popularity in America to unprecedented levels. His story and success helped sell millions of the ”Livestrong” plastic yellow wrist bracelets, and enabled him to enlist lawmakers and global policymakers to promote cancer awareness and research. His Lance Armstrong Foundation has raised nearly $500 million since its founding in 1997.

    Jeffery C. Gervey, chairman of the foundation, issued a statement of support saying:

    ”Faced with a biased process whose outcome seems predetermined, Lance chose to put his family and his foundation first,” Gervey said. ”The leadership of the Lance Armstrong Foundation remain incredibly proud of our founder’s achievements, both on and off the bike.”

    Created in 2000, USADA is recognized by Congress as the official anti-doping agency for Olympic sports in the United States. Its investigators joined U.S. agents during the federal investigation of Armstrong. Tygart dismissed Armstrong’s lawsuit as an attempt at ”concealing the truth,” saying the agency is motivated by one goal – exposing cheaters.

    Armstrong had tense public disputes with USADA, the World Anti-Doping Agency, some former teammates and assistants and even Greg LeMond, the first American to win the Tour de France.

    ”He had a right to contest the charges,” WADA President John Fahey said after Armstrong’s announcement. ”He chose not to. The simple fact is that his refusal to examine the evidence means the charges had substance in them.”

    Others close to Armstrong were caught up in the investigations, too: Johan Bruyneel, the coach of Armstrong’s teams, and three members of the medical staff and a consultant were also charged. Bruyneel is taking his case to arbitration, while two medical team staffers and consulting doctor Michele Ferrari didn’t formally contest the charges and were issued lifetime ban by USADA. Ferrari later said he was innocent.

    Questions surfaced even as Armstrong was on his way to his first Tour victory. He was leading the 1999 race when a trace amount of a banned anti-inflammatory corticosteroid was found in his urine; cycling officials said he was authorized to use a small amount of a cream to treat saddle sores.

    After Armstrong’s second victory in 2000, French judicial officials investigated his Postal Service team for drug use. That investigation ended with no charges, but the allegations kept coming.

    Armstrong was criticized for his relationship with Ferrari, who was banned by Italian authorities over doping charges in 2002. Former personal and team assistants accused Armstrong of having steroids in an apartment in Spain and disposing of syringes that were used for injections.

    In 2004, a Dallas-based promotions company initially refused to pay him a $5 million bonus for winning his sixth Tour de France because it wanted to investigate allegations raised by media in Europe. Testimony in that case included former teammate Frankie Andreu and his wife, Betsy, saying Armstrong told doctors during his 1996 cancer treatments that he had taken a cornucopia of steroids and performance-enhancing drugs.

    Two books published in Europe, ”L.A. Confidential” and ”L.A. Official,” also raised doping allegations and, in 2005, French magazine L’Equipe reported that retested urine samples from the 1999 Tour showed EPO use.

    Armstrong fought every accusation with denials and, in some cases, lawsuits against media outlets that reported them.

    He retired in 2005 and almost immediately considered a comeback before deciding to stay on the sidelines – in part because he didn’t want to keep answering doping questions.

    ”I’m sick of this,” Armstrong said in 2005. ”Sitting here today, dealing with all this stuff again, knowing if I were to go back, there’s no way I could get a fair shake – on the roadside, in doping control, or the labs.”

    Three years later, Armstrong was 36 and itching to ride again. He came back to finish third in the 2009 Tour de France.

    Armstrong raced again in 2010 under the cloud of the federal investigation. Early last year, he quit the sport for good, making a brief return as a triathlete until the USADA investigation shut him down.

    During his sworn testimony in the dispute over the $5 million bonus, Armstrong said he wouldn’t take drugs because he had too much to lose.

    ”(The) faith of all the cancer survivors around the world. Everything I do off the bike would go away, too,” Armstrong said then. ”And don’t think for a second I don’t understand that. It’s not about money for me. Everything. It’s also about the faith that people have put in me over the years. So all of that would be erased.”

    AP National Writer Eddie Pells and AP Sports Writer Dennis Passa contributed to this report.

     
     

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    42,000 modern-day slaves rescued but millions in bondage, trafficking report says

    By Ian Johnston, msnbc.com

     

    More than 42,000 adults and children kept as slaves, forced into prostitution or otherwise trafficked were discovered by authorities around the world in 2011, according to a new report by the U.S. State Department.

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    Johan Ordonez / AFP – Getty Images, file
    Prostitutes come out of a tunnel where they remained hidden during an operation against human trafficking at the “Super Frontera” bar, late on April 21, 2012 in Guatemala City.

    However this figure was a tiny fraction of the estimated number of people held in bondage with the International Labor Organization estimating earlier this month that there are about 20.9 million victims of modern slavery, the State Department Trafficking in Persons Report noted.

    Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act of 2003, foreign governments must supply information about trafficking investigations and prosecutions to the State Department in order to be considered by the U.S. as working to eliminate slavery.

    The report details the problem of trafficking in countries around the world, including victims’ accounts.

    “I walk around and carry the physical scars of the torture you put me through. The cigarette burns, the knife carvings, the piercings … how a human being can see humor in the torture, manipulation, and brainwashing of another human being is beyond comprehension. You have given me a life sentence,” it quotes a victim of sex trafficking in the U.S. as telling her trafficker at his sentencing.

    US expands human trafficking blacklist to 23 countries

    Another trafficking survivor in the U.S. named “Tonya” said she “always felt like a criminal.”

    “I never felt like a victim at all. Victims don’t do time in jail, they work on the healing process. I was a criminal because I spent time in jail,” she said.

    ‘Like she was our own daughter’
    Ken Burkhart, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent, described the liberation of a Latin American sex trafficking victim.

    “I told my agents we’re going to treat this little girl like she was our own daughter. We’re going to hunt this little girl down and get her out of this trailer,” he said, according to the report.

    After she was found, “I told her we’d been in touch with her sister and I shook her hand and I just gently led her right out the door,” he added.

    120620-trafficking-graphic_photoblog600
    State Department
    Graphic showing persons in forced labor in different parts of the world

    The offense of trafficking involves “the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.”

    It applies where people have been forced into prostitution; victims do not necessarily need to have been physically moved from one location to another.

    Police rescue 24,000 women, children from Chinese human trafficking gangs

    In a letter included in the report, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted the U.S. would celebrate the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in the coming months and said that “governments across the globe are united in this struggle.”

    “Yet, despite the adoption of treaties and laws prohibiting slavery, the evidence nevertheless shows that many men, women, and children continue to live in modern-day slavery through the scourge of trafficking in persons,” she added.

    Clinton moved by girl’s ‘pride’
    Clinton said earlier this year she had visited a trafficking shelter in Kolkata, India.

    “The young women and girls there had suffered terrible abuse. But with their own drive and determination and with the help of some remarkable women and men they were getting their lives back on track,” she said.

    “I met one girl, about ten years old, who asked if I wanted to see the martial arts she had learned at the shelter. As she performed her routine, I was impressed with the skills she had learned; but more than that, I was moved by the pride in her eyes – her sense of accomplishment and strength,” she added.

    The Secretary of State said trafficking people deprived people of the “most basic freedom” – being able to determine their own future.

    “A century and a half after the promise of freedom was fought and won in the United States, freedom remains elusive for millions,” Clinton said. “We know that this struggle will not truly be won until all those who toil in modern slavery, like those girls in Kolkata, are free to realize their God-given potential.”

     

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    Top court hears landmark spousal abuse case

    CBC June 14th 2012

    canadasupremecourt
    The Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on February 17, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean

    The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments Thursday on whether victims of domestic abuse can hire a hit man to kill their partners, a controversial issue which tests the limits of the defence of duress.

    The case involves a Nova Scotia woman, Nicole Doucet, who tried to hire an undercover RCMP officer to kill her husband Michael Ryan.

    The high school teacher was arrested in March 2008 and charged with counselling to commit murder.

    She was acquitted of the charge two years later after the Nova Scotia Supreme Court accepted her argument that she thought she had no other way out of an abusive 15-year marriage to a man who repeatedly threatened her and her daughter.

    At trial, her lawyer successfully used the criminal defence of duress, arguing that she had no other avenue of escape from the situation. Duress is usually used when someone involuntarily commits a crime after being threatened by another person.

    The Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld the ruling, saying the marriage amounted to a “reign of terror.”

    The Supreme Court recognized battered woman syndrome in a landmark 1990 case. It outlined how a woman in an abusive relationship who kills her partner can use the Criminal Code’s self-defence provisions to argue for an acquittal.

    But Nova Scotia prosecutors say the self-defence provisions and the defence of duress were incorrectly applied in this case.

    During Thursday’s proceedings, the prosecutor’s office argued that the defence of duress has been mixed up with the defence of self-defence, CBC’s Leslie MacKinnon reported from the court. They argued that a future jury would find it confusing to deal with trying to filter which defence applies to which case.

    Delaney also argued that the “air of reality” was not there for the duress defence and that the two had been separated for seven months and that Doucet was well on her way to independence.

    He also said Doucet had an avenue of escape — a transition house — something the trial judge had rejected.

    But Joel Pink, a lawyer representing Doucet, argued that the trial judge accepted all the facts and that she didn’t tell police about the sexual assaults because police would have gone to her husband and he would deny it.

    He said the breaking point was when Ryan showed up at the school where Nicole Ryan worked. Less than a month later she looked for a hit man.

     
     

    Iranian actress faces 90 lashes for role

    Iran reportedly sentences film actress to 90 lashes

    By Laura Rozen | The EnvoyMon, 10 Oct, 2011

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    An Iranian court has sentenced an Iranian actress to one year in jail and 90 lashes related to her role in an Australian-made film portraying social alienation, artistic repression and drug use in Iran, according to an Iranian opposition website.

    “In an outcome that could have been lifted from the pages of the movie’s script”–“My Tehran for Sale“–the film’s lead actress, Marzieh Vafamehr, “was arrested in July and received her sentence at the weekend, according to reports quoting Iranian opposition website kalameh.com,” the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

    marzieh_vafamehr02

    In the 2009 film, Vafamehr portrays a Tehran actress whose theater work is banned by the authorities and is thus driven to Tehran’s cultural underground. Ultimately, she contemplates whether to leave Iran for exile abroad.

    “Vafamehr often appears with a shaved head and no headscarf in the film, which also explores cultural oppression in Iran and taboos such as drug use,” the paper said.

    Vafamehr’s attorney has reportedly appealed the sentence which was handed down on Saturday. Technically, she was accused of participating in a film whose shooting did not have the required permits. However, both the film’s director and the actress’s filmmaker husband Nasser Taghvai said the charge is baseless.

    “The accusations against Marzieh have no grounds,” Granaz Moussavi, the Melbourne-based Iranian-Australian director of the film, said in a statement Tuesday, the AP reported. “All the documentation has been provided to the Iranian court to show that permits were in place for the production of the film.”

    Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd also expressed concern about the sentence Tuesday.

    “The Australian government condemns the use of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment and is deeply concerned by reports that Ms. Marzieh Vafamehr has been sentenced to one year in jail and 90 lashes for her role in an Australian-produced film,” a spokeswoman for Rudd said in a statement, the AP wrote. “The Australian government urges Iran to protect the rights of all Iranians and foreign citizens.”

     

    Iran’s Orwellian justice system has provoked past controversies.  Last year, for example, Iranian courts approved a death-by-stoning sentencefor Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a woman accused of adultery and murder charges. Ashtiani’s sentence was stayed, but only after a global outcry from international human-rights groups.

    A moratorium had been declared on stoning in 2002, but the nation’s Islamic courts have continued to hand down stoning sentencesin accordance with the strict wording of the law.

    On Tuesday, Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reportedly took to his websiteto criticize a flogging punishment handed down to a student who had criticized him.

    “When high-profile figures freely insult the government, I disapprove that a youth is flogged for insulting me,” Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wrote at his presidential website, the Associated Press reported.

    Lashing sentences are not unheard of in the region. Last month, the Saudi king reportedly overturned a lashing sentence handed down to a Saudi woman who had been arrested for driving.

     

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    This article brings to mind the follwoing quote:

    “We want a society where people are free to make choices, to make mistakes, to be generous and compassionate. This is what we mean by a moral society; not a society where the state is responsible for everything, and no one is responsible for the state.” — Margaret Thatcher, British prime minister

     
     

    The most powerful woman in U.S. business

    Kraft boss bumps Pepsi chief as top U.S. woman exec

    reuters

    On Friday September 30, 2011, 9:32 am EDT …Editing by Cynthia Osterman

     
    2011-09-30T133213Z_01_BTRE78T11LS00_RTROPTP_3_CBUSINESS-US-USA-WOMEN-BUSINESS_small
    NEW YORK (Reuters) – Kraft Foods boss Irene Rosenfeld is the most powerful woman in U.S. business, Fortune magazine said on Thursday, bumping PepsiCo Inc chief Indra Nooyi into second spot after five years on top.

    The 14th annual ranking was determined by the size and importance of the woman’s business in the global economy, the health and direction of the business, the arc of the woman’s career and her social and cultural relevance.

    “Rosenfeld made a big show of power this year with her decision to split Kraft into two companies, a reversal of her previous strategy of expanding through acquisitions,” Fortune magazine said of the Kraft chief executive, who led a hostile $18 billion takeover of Britain’s Cadbury last year.

    “On Nooyi’s watch, PepsiCo has forged further into nutrition-focused products,” Fortune said. “But Nooyi has been criticized for taking her eye off the core North American soda business, which has lost share to Coke.”

    Nooyi was the only woman in the top 10 most powerful to be among the top 10 highest paid, coming in at No. 9 after earning $14 million last year. The highest paid woman was Oracle President Safra Catz with $42 million.

    Just a week after being appointed chief executive of Hewlett-Packard Co , Meg Whitman — who was chief executive of eBay Inc until 2008 and last year ran a failed bid to become governor of California — returned to the ranking of the top 50 most powerful business women at No. 9.

    “While her ascent to the role is a sure sign of her power, it remains to be seen if she can fix the computer maker and bring order to its dysfunctional board,” Fortune said.

    Whitman filled a top 10 vacancy left by the firing over the phone last month of Yahoo Inc Chief Executive Carol Bartz, who has now dropped off the Fortune list.

    PUSH FOR WOMEN IN BOARDROOMS

    Media mogul Oprah Winfrey fell 10 spots to No. 16 with Fortune saying her influence had waned after hosting the final season of ” The Oprah Winfrey Show ” in May. Johnson & Johnson Vice Chairman, Executive Committee, Sherilyn McCoy, filled that top 10 opening, coming in at the 10th spot.

    Otherwise the top of the list was largely unchanged from 2010.

    Archer Daniels Midland Chief Executive Patricia Woertz came in at No. 3, followed by DuPont Chief Executive Ellen Kullman, Wellpoint Chief Executive Angela Braly and Avon Products Chief Executive Andrea Jung.

    Rounding out the top 10 was IBM Senior Vice President Ginni Rometty at No. 7, followed by Xerox Chief Executive Ursula Burns.

    While women represent about half of the United States’ white-collar workers, they are a rarity in the upper echelons of business, with female chief executives running just 3 percent of companies in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index .

    More companies have been focusing recently on increasing their female board representation as more and more research has shown that companies with women directors or even just more diverse boards tend to do better than those with executive teams made up entirely of men.

    Some countries such as Norway and Spain have introduced quotas requiring a minimum level of female board representation.

    A former British trade minister wants FTSE 100 companies to have 25 percent women on boards by 2015 and EU internal market commissioner Michel Barnier has put gender diversity for bank boards on his radar in the wake of the financial crisis.

    The full Fortune list of the most powerful women in U.S. business can be seen at: http://cnnmon.ie/oSllDy and the list of the highest paid can be seen at: http://cnnmon.ie/pO26Ho