October 12th, 2010

Pride & Prejudice

University tuition costs to hit £36,000

Students face paying up to £36,000 for a three-year degree course under plans for the most radical reform of universities in 50 years.

Virtually all taxpayer funding will be removed from the majority of degrees and students will have to borrow tens of thousands of pounds to cover the doubled cost of courses. Universities will have to charge at least £7,000 a year to cover the loss of central government funding and some elite degrees are expected to cost up to £12,000 a year.

These are understood to be the key findings from a long-awaited review of university funding conducted by Lord Browne, the former head of BP. The recommendations have been welcomed by senior ministers after the peer delivered them his report at the weekend.

The Government is now drawing up plans to offer large “mortgage-style” loans to students to cover the increased costs of their studies. Many graduates will spend almost an entire working lifetime repaying the money. Collapse )
No. No.

At this rate, we're going to revert back to having a tiny minority who can afford it, which is beyond ridiculous. Why not have a Graduate Tax? Why not make us pay for our degrees
when we can actually pay?
bird dj

Woman, 101, to become U.S. citizen with help of 69-year-old document

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Brownsville, Texas (CNN) -- Eulalia Garcia Maturey has outlived two husbands, her two children and decades of bygone immigration laws. At 101, Maturey will become a U.S. citizen on the 101st anniversary of her crossing into the United States from Mexico.

The naturalization ceremony will take place Tuesday afternoon in a federal courtroom in Brownsville, Texas, according to the Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Services.

Maturey described the feeling of becoming a citizen with one word: "Libre," Spanish for "free."

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Chanel #3

Canada ends bid to join UN Security Council

Canada ends bid to join UN Security Council

Canada has withdrawn its candidacy for the final seat available on the UN Security Council after it appeared Portugal was on track to win the last spot.

Canada's UN Ambassador John McNee made the abrupt announcement after Canada received only 78 votes to Portugal's 113 in the second round of voting for a spot on the Security Council.

Initially, Germany, Portugal and Canada were vying for two non-permanent seats available to pro-Western nations, but Germany got the required two-thirds majority to secure a seat in the first round of voting Tuesday.

Germany received 128 votes, Portugal took 122 and Canada finished with 114 in the first round of voting.

Three other countries were elected to the UN Security Council Tuesday -- South Africa, India and Colombia. All were running for uncontested spots.

Canada's surprise announcement was in stark contrast to Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon's statements in the morning, in which he said he was confident Canada would rejoin the council.

He said Canada's campaign had "gone well."

Canada was believed to be in a good position because it was facing two European competitors.

"There is concern that the Council would be too European-weighed if both Germany and Portugal were to prevail," Michelle Fanzo of the World Policy Institute told CTV News Channel on Tuesday before Canada withdrew its candidacy.

If Canada was successful in its bid for membership, it would have started a two-year term on the Security Council in January. It would have been the seventh time that Canada has served since 1948.

There are 15 members of the Security Council in total.

Five nations have permanent membership: China, France, the Russian Federation, the United States and the United Kingdom.

The remaining 10 seats are non-permanent and are assigned to nations for two-year terms.



Ken Buck (R) calls rape victim 'buyer's remorse'. (trigger warnings for sexual assault)

A five-year-old rape case that was never prosecuted is suddenly causing major ripples in the Colorado Senate race and headaches for Republican candidate Ken Buck.

Three weeks from Election Day, stories have suddenly emerged about Buck's refusal to follow up on rape allegations involving a University of North Colorado student during his stint as Weld County District Attorney. He declined to file criminal charges against the alleged victim's attacker on the belief that not enough evidence existed to win the case, a conclusion that is not entirely rare with such delicate cases.

Renewed criticism, however, has erupted over Buck's handling of the case in light of some of his newly-resurfaced remarks, including a conversation he had with the victim and his suggestion that a jury would view the rape charges as merely her "buyer's remorse."

Buck's campaign told Politico on Monday that the entire topic was a non-story driven by a partisan organization. "Reputable news organizations should not be an echo chamber for Progress Now [the progressive group that first surfaced this incident]. We obviously can't trust them," Buck spokesman Owen Loftus said.

The Huffington Post has obtained the audio of the meeting Buck held with the victim as well as the pertinent police report -- both of which, critics say, make him seem callous and even hostile in dismissing her pleas.

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Source. WARNING: Source also contains part of the police report which is a GRAPHIC DESCRIPTION of the attack. Read at your own risk, probably NSFW.
NEM - Lt Dan Choi

DOJ to appeal Gill v. OPM

From Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders:

Department of Justice will Appeal GLAD’s Victory in DOMA Lawsuit

Today, the Department of Justice filed a notice of appeal in the case of Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, the challenge brought by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) to Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Representing seven married same-sex couples and three widowers, GLAD filed Gill in March 2009. The case was heard in May 2010 by U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro, who issued a decision finding DOMA Section 3 unconstitutional on July 8, 2010.

“We fully expected an appeal and are more than ready to meet it head on,” said Mary L. Bonauto, GLAD’s Civil Rights Project Director. “DOMA brings harm to families like our plaintiffs every day, denying married couples and their children basic protections like health insurance, pensions, and Social Security benefits. We are confident in the strength of our case.”

The case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. The next step will be for the government to file its brief to that court arguing that Judge Tauro’s ruling was wrong. GLAD will then file its brief in opposition to the government, and finally the government will file a reply brief. At that point, the appeal will be scheduled for oral argument. Briefing could be concluded by the spring of 2011 with oral argument to follow by the fall of 2011.

The government also today filed its notice of appeal in the related case Commonwealth of Massachusetts vs. Department of Health and Human Services.

More to come ...


And right after we got such good news of DADT too...

'Waiting for Superman"

Students Caught in the School Squeeze

“One of the saddest days of my life was when my mother told me ‘Superman’ did not exist,” the educational reformer Geoffrey Canada recalls in the opening moments of “Waiting for ‘Superman,’ ” a powerful and alarming documentary about America’s failing public school system. “She thought I was crying because it’s like Santa Claus is not real. I was crying because no one was coming with enough power to save us.”

If Mr. Canada, who was born in the South Bronx and grew up to be one of the country’s most charismatic and inspiring educators, is not Superman, he must be a close relative. Those who have read Paul Tough’s book, “Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada’s Quest to Change Harlem and America,” will know that the 97-block Harlem Children’s Zone, which he founded and runs, is no miracle. The zone is astoundingly successful at getting children through high school and into college. But that success, largely dependent on private money, is a costly product of laborious trial and error.


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Read the rest of the review here.

From what I've read about the movie, it seems to come down really hard on teachers and the unions. Not that they can't be held accountable for a lot of what is wrong with the system, but they need to be given credit as well. There are so many awesome teachers that need to be recognized for their effort in trying to turn the public school system around. They are the real superheroes here.


China attacks 'disrespectful' Nobel Peace Prize

China has attacked other countries for supporting the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to prominent dissident Liu Xiaobo.

In the first comprehensive and public response to the awarding of the prize, the government warned other nations to think again when considering making an issue of the Nobel Prize and not to meddle in China's internal affairs.

China's foreign ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told a press conference the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a prisoner was disrespectful.

"In China, the cause of human rights continues to progress - this is widely acknowledged by the world - and yet the Nobel Committee gave the Nobel Peace Prize to a prisoner who is serving his sentence in jail," he said.

"This is disrespectful to China's legal system."

The ABC asked Mr Ma what message Beijing had for governments around the world which had supported the awarding of the Nobel Prize to Mr Liu.

"Some politicians in some countries are using this opportunity to make irresponsible remarks," he said.

"It's not only disrespectful to China's legal system; we also suspect their true motives [are that]... some people want to use this method to change China's political system or to slow down Chinese people's progress.

"Obviously, they're wrong if they think this will work."

Mr Liu is serving an 11-year jail term in north-east China's Jinzhou Prison for co-authoring a document calling for widespread democratic reforms in the country.

The government saw this as advocating the overthrow of the Communist Party.

In Beijing, Mr Liu's wife, Liu Xia, is under effective house arrest.

The lockdown has stopped journalists from taking footage and interviewing her.

There is a sign outside Mrs Liu's compound saying that filming and interviews are not welcome.

When Mr Ma was asked why Mr Liu's wife was being detained, he replied that he did not know who the reporter was talking about.

  • synesis

Browne review: Let's neoliberalise higher ed!

Browne Review: Universities must set their own tuition fees

Universities should be allowed to decide what they charge students under a radical shakeup of higher education which would see the existing cap on tuition fees lifted.

A new system of financing universities will allow for a 10% increase in student places to meet rising demand for a degree-level education, the Browne review proposes.

Lord Browne, the former chief executive of BP, said universities that charged the highest fees would have to demonstrate they are widening access to students from poorer homes.

"There are a variety of things they can do in that area, including offering scholarships for living expenses," he told the Guardian.

Graduates will start repaying the cost of their degrees when they start earning £21,000 a year, up from £15,000 under the current system, the review recommends.

The independent review recommends that the current cap on fees of £3,290 a year be removed.

Institutions charging more than £6,000 will have to pay a rising percentage of each additional £1,000 as a levy to government. So a university that charges £7,000 will receive 94% of this fee, while one that charges £10,000 will receive 81%. At £6,000, the university receives the full fee.

Lord Browne said today that he did not expect students to be deterred by debt.

"There is a lot of evidence that students don't just look at debt, but at the prize at the end as well, which is significant earning potential. If you look at the 40% of students who study part-time, we don't offer them anything, but they still come and study part-time."

The Browne review says that should change and part-time students should have equal entitlement to government support for tuition fees.

"Part-time study provides a second chance for people who missed out earlier in their lives, and it is important to level the playing field between part-time and full-time study," the review says.

The coalition government is not bound to adopt Lord Browne's proposals. Lifting the cap on fees could provoke a rift with the Lib Dems, who are pledged to oppose any increase in fees.

Careers advice is in need of "a radical overhaul", according to the Browne review.

"Part of empowering our young people is ensuring they have the right information, advice and guidance to make the correct choice. This means careers advice in all schools of the kind currently being given in the private sector."

Lord Browne said students would dictate which universities flourished and which did not.

"The word is out - students talk to each other. I want to encourage that. This is about the student experience, and if people are pulling a fast one, it will come out very quickly."

The review calls for "student charters" that give information about employment rates and course quality. It also proposes raising the amount poorer students receive to cover their living expenses while at university.

"A lot of people won't pay back anything like what the government has given them. The bottom 20% [of earners] would pay back less than they do today." Only the top 40% of earners would pay back the full cost, the review says.

It recommends there should be "no single fixed price" for fees. Different courses cost different amounts, Browne said. Institutions will have to persuade students that the charges they put on their courses represent value for money. "Institutions are all different and they provide a wide range of different courses. We want this diversity to flourish," the review says.

Arts and humanities degrees could become more expensive and potentially less popular under Browne's proposals. The review says the government could remove public funding from all but "priority" subjects, such as medicine, science and engineering.

It says there needs to be a "closer fit between what is taught and the skills needed in the economy".

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OP note: Those of you in UK education need to SIT UP and TAKE NOTICE of this. There's a more detailed article in the THE here: http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?sectioncode=26&storycode=413806&c=1

There are a number of points we should be talking about on this, but it's not solely that fees are going to rise, it's also that the report opens the door to the systematic defunding of arts, humanities and social sciences, and complex, critical and abstract theoretical disciplines generally, in order to render the university solely a training ground for future employment; the introduction of entry tariffs in particular are extraordinarily dangerous in terms of access to HE for those from non-traditional backgrounds. Equally, the introduction of differing fee rates for different courses at the undergraduate level means that students will be forced to choose not on the basis of what they want to study, but what they can afford to study.

This is nothing less than the first major step to the importation of the US model of HE in this country, a model which fundamentally impedes the spread of education and reserves the best teaching for the wealthiest and renders the university beholden to wealthy alumni, hypothecated donations and political influence. Both students and academics need to be united on this: one of the reason many choose to remain in HE in this country is because the move to America, however financially interesting, also carries with it the tacit support for a very broken HE system. Come out, join, demonstrate, get involved: http://www.demo2010.org/
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    the slow destruction of british education
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The Big Republican Lie on Tax Cuts

Republicans have repeated the lie that tax cuts are always good for the economy so often that all of Washington seems absolutely convinced that it's true. The conventional wisdom is so established on this that all a Republican has to say is, "Everyone knows you don't raise taxes in the middle of a recession..." Or in good times or in mediocre times or ever. All tax cuts are always good.

Republicans add another layer of absurdity to this as they say that tax cuts always lead to more revenue for the federal government because of supply-side economics. The economy expands, people make more money and the government collects more in taxes even though it takes a smaller percentage. Great theory -- how about if we cut taxes down to 1 percent? Would the government still get more revenue?

The question isn't whether tax cuts or tax increases are always the right answer. The question is at what level of taxes do we stimulate the economy, collect enough revenue to run a functioning government and let people keep as much of their income as we can. No one, not even the world's biggest liberal, wants to pay more in taxes personally. We just want to find the right balance so that everyone wins.

When you look to see what that right level is in our history, what you find is very interesting. In our glory years between 1945-1965 (these are the years that the Republicans dream of going back to), the top marginal tax rate fluctuated between 77 percent and 94 percent. I was stunned when I first learned that. People's heads would explode if you suggested those levels now. Yet, it worked for us for decades as we built the great American middle class and our manufacturing base.

The second interesting fact is what happens when we have historically low taxes. From 1925 to1931, the highest marginal tax rate was as low as it has almost ever been -- between 24-25 percent. And between 2003-2010, the highest marginal tax rate was also at one of its lowest points -- 35 percent. So, what happened when we had these really low tax rates? The Great Depression and the Great Recession.

In fact, when you look at when the economy takes off and when it slows down, it almost perfectly matches the fluctuation of our tax rates. Except the correlation is the exact opposite of conventional wisdom -- the economy crashes after tax cuts and takes off after tax increases.


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Basically, it comes down to the fact that the good of our economy relies upon us having a healthy balance of tax rates.   One where tax rates aren't too high to live upon, but still has taxes high enough to motivate businesses into re-investing back into those businesses to grow them and the economy.   We managed to destroy our economy by basically using it as a cash cow, sucking all of the money and value out of it, and not re-investing it to keep things going in terms of industry and job creation.

This makes a great deal of sense to me, and I think this article does a great job of quantifying why the whole "lower taxes are always better" meme just isn't true.


Two terrible crashes in Eastern Europe

KIEV, Ukraine – A train crashed into a crowded bus in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday, killing 42 people on the bus, including two children, and injuring nearly a dozen others, officials said.


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WARSAW, Poland – A van crammed with farm workers crashed head-on into a truck in central Poland on Tuesday after apparently trying to overtake another vehicle in dense fog, killing all 18 people on board, officials said. The truck driver suffered minor injuries.


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Iceland : My head hurts

Muslim teen beaten, called a 'terrorist' by classmates says he stayed silent out of fear

A Muslim boy says four bullies made his life a living hell in the halls of a Staten Island public school, calling him a "terrorist" and beating him every chance they got.

The victim, a 16-year-old high school freshman, told his father and the police of the constant abuse he endured, prompting the arrests Sunday of his teen tormenters on suspicion of hate crimes.

"[They] punched me in my groin, and I fell to the floor. They started kicking me, and calling me 'You f---in' terrorist,' 'You f---in' Muslim,'" the victim, Kristian, told the Daily News.

Word of Kristian's emotionally scarring ordeal comes during a disturbing spike in hate crimes across the city, highlighted by Friday's sadistic Bronx gang torture of two teens and an adult because they were gay.

Kristian - his voice shaky, his hands clenched in his lap - and his parents spoke to The News on grounds their last name not be used.

The boy, the American-born, only child of Trinidadian immigrants, said the abuse began in October 2009 while he was a student at the Edwin Markham Intermediate School. He said the almost-daily abuse didn't end until he graduated from the school in June.

He finally told his father when he began his freshman year last month at Port Richmond High School and saw two of the bullies sitting in one of his classes; he hasn't returned to class since.

"I think I can't go through a year like this again," said the soft-spoken victim, who first told his story to the Staten Island Advance.

The four suspects - three 14-year-old Latinos and a 15-year-old African-American - were arrested on charges of assault and aggravated harassment - both as hate crimes. They were all released to their parents and are expected to be formally charged as early as today as minors. Their names were not made public.

Kristian said the bullying began when the thugs first called him gay and quickly escalated to him being battered for his Muslim heritage and blamed for terrorist bombings.

"I was very scared that if I told the teachers...they would beat me up more," Kristian said.

He said he remained silent, hoping and praying they would stop.

"It kept going on," he said. "The kids were in my class and they would see me in the halls."

He said one of the teen thugs brazenly attacked him in class, in front of a teacher.

"[He] touched me here and here," he said, pointing to his left elbow and forehead.

The teacher scolded the menace, saying, "'Why did you do that for? He's a good boy. Leave him alone. Why do you keep bothering him?'"

Outside of class, things got worse.

"Four kids punched me everywhere. They would spit in my face, and kick and punch me. I had injuries," Kristian said.

Once he was kicked so hard he had blood in his urine and had to go and see his doctor.

His father, whose first name is Shaffiate, said Kristian, a once-promising student and gifted piano player, has given up music and his grades have suffered.

"He's afraid to go outside alone," the father said.

The family wants him transferred to a new school.


(no subject)


Recent media reports on the rise of anti-gay bullying and its fatal impact have helped spark a nationwide movement against discriminatory taunting.

Down in Alabama, for example, a father and truck driver named Jason Childs has thrown himself into the cause, which he's been following for a few months, and last week asked the state's Board of Education for some time to discuss anti-gay bullying.

The Board, however, refused his request.

Childs, a former Baptist minister with two children, isn't simply concerned with the homophobic aspect of this epidemic. He wants our nation's children to be prepared for a little thing called "reality."

“We’re not preparing our kids for the real world,” he said. “When these kids go out into the workplace, they’re going to be working alongside people of all different backgrounds, but they can’t learn to do that if we won’t teach them.”

Childs decided to help things along and asked the Board for some time to discuss tactics on curbing anti-gay bullying. While Alabama has anti-bullying legislation, it does not include LGBT-related incidents, so the Board holds the cards. Unfortunately, they're not playing: Childs received a letter last week denying his request.

Now Childs, who recently founded a group called Center for Progress Alabama, says more and more of his peers are concerned with anti-gay bullying. "Bullying and other issues of anti-gay discrimination kept coming up again and again [in discussions]," he explained. “It’s something everyone wanted to talk about.”

And, as the Anniston Star's Tim Lockette reports, this new-found attention puts conservatives, at least in Alabama, in an unfamiliar position: "In a conservative, Bible-Belt state, advocates say, administrators fear backlash from the public if they even mention the word “gay” in a non-negative light. But Alabama administrators may soon have to deal with pressure from pro-gay parents, if recent trends are any indication." The tides are turning...


Louise Brooks Journals to be Revealed, and Perhaps Published

John Updike once told me that Louise Brooks was the finest writer to have ever come out of Hollywood. That was his long-held opinion when I met him in 2006. Updike had reviewed the silent film star's book of autobiographical essays, Lulu in Hollywood, for the New Yorker in 1982.
A similar opinion is held by another Pulitzer Prize winner. In his 1997 anthology, Roger Ebert's Book of Film: From Tolstoy to Tarantino, the Finest Writing From a Century of Film, the Chicago critic describes Lulu in Hollywood as "one of the wittiest and most truthful books ever written about the movies."
Last week, word broke that the George Eastman House has unsealed Brooks' private journals. Before her death, she had bequeathed them to the famed Rochester, New York museum with instructions they remain sealed for 25 years. Brooks -- Kansas-born and long a resident of New York City and Los Angeles -- had lived in Rochester during the last few decades of her life. She was drawn there by the Eastman House film collection. Brooks liked watching movies, and writing about them.
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(no subject)

City backs Indy bakery in gay cookie flap

INDIANAPOLIS, Oct. 10 (UPI) -- Officials in Indianapolis say refusing to bake cookies for a gay rights event was not an act of discrimination on the part of the bakery.

The commission that wrote the city's anti-discrimination ordinance said the bakery that turned down the order should not lose its lease at the City Market.

"We never intended for good businesses to be kicked out," Jackie Nytes, a City-County Council member and ordinance sponsor, told The Indianapolis Star. "We sure never meant for the ordinance to be interpreted that aggressively."

The Star Sunday said the council got involved after the owner of Just Cookies told a college gay rights group last month he would not fill an order for rainbow-iced cookies because he did not endorse homosexuality.

The City-Council Council said in a letter obtained by the Star "it would be wrong to force a business to support a political project with which they do not agree."


Official advice for kids: laugh with bullies

Official advice for kids: laugh with bullies

They should also consider putting on a "protective shell" by acting unimpressed, the guidelines say.

But bullying victim Tyler Fishlock, who lost both his eyes because of cancer, said yesterday he didn't feel confident enough to confront bullies.

"The first thing I would do is walk away, and then tell the teacher," he said.

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Yeah. Fucking. Right.

Cannon blames Ignatieff for Canada's UN vote loss

Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon says the lack of support from Michael Ignatieff for Canada's bid to win a seat on the United Nations Security Council helped scuttle it, an assertion the Liberal leader called "ridiculous."

Canada abruptly dropped its bid for a seat on the council after coming behind Portugal in second ballot voting Tuesday in New York. Cannon said the Canadian government will continue to work with its UN partners despite the outcome.

Germany won one of two seats up for grabs in the first round of voting earlier Tuesday, with 128 of 191 ballots cast, while Portugal came second with 122 votes and Canada collected 114.

"Not being able to speak with one voice as a country had a negative impact on Canada's bid," Cannon said at a press conference after Canada withdrew.

"Canada was not united because some saw this as an opportunity to score political points by opposing Canada's candidacy."

"[Ignatieff] came out clearly indicating that Canada did not deserve a seat ... and for that, of course, we were extremely disappointed," Cannon said.

"I have never seen in the course of the last months any leader of a political party, both in Germany or in Portugal, dismiss their country's candidacy."

Ignatieff says Canada ignored UN

In previous years, Canada had always spoken with one voice, Cannon said.

In the lead-up to the vote, as the merits of the Security Council bid were being debated in the Commons, Ignatieff said he didn't believe Canada had earned the right to sit there.

"This is a government that for four years has basically ignored the United Nations and now is suddenly showing up saying, 'Hey, put us on the council,'" he said.

"Don't mistake me. I know how important it is for Canada to get a seat on the Security Council, but Canadians have to ask a tough question: 'Has this government earned that place?' We're not convinced it has."

At a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday, Ignatieff called it a "sad and disappointing" as well as "historic day" for Canada because "it's the first time in more than 60 years we failed to secure a seat on an institution that this country helped found.... It's part of the general pattern of disappointing results for Canada on the international stage."

Ignatieff refused to accept blame for losing the seat.

"The responsibility for this vote lies squarely and exclusively with the Harper government. Any other proposition is just too ridiculous to entertain," he said. "Don't try this blame game with Canadians."

Ignatieff went on to say, "I derive zero pleasure out of this.... Canada deserves a place on the security council."

Meanwhile, NDP Foreign Affairs critic Paul Dewar said losing the vote for a seat is a "catastrophe" for Canada's reputation and credibility.

"Perhaps more importantly, we're not going to be at the table and, therefore, we can't affect the agenda," Dewar told reporters in Ottawa.

"The government can look for people to blame, but the government should look in the mirror and blame itself.... I do lay this at the feet of our prime minister and our foreign affairs minister," he said. "This government has ... formulated a foreign policy based on domestic gain and talking points."

In a statement, John Bennett, executive director of the Sierra Club Canada, said, "Canada's unilateral withdrawal from the United Nations' legally binding treaty on climate change [Kyoto Protocol] may have played an important role in Canada's lost bid."

John McNee, Canada's UN ambassador, made the surprise announcement that Canada would pull out after its poor showing on the second ballot — 78 to Portugal's 113. A two-thirds majority is needed to win a seat.

It is the first time that Canada has failed in its bid for a Security Council seat. Canada has been on the Security Council six times, roughly once a decade, since the 1940s. The country's last term ended in 2000. Germany and Portugal have also been on the council previously.

Canada had campaigned for nine years — since its last term on the council — for a seat. In the final days of Tuesday's bid, Canada wined and dined diplomats, offering them gifts of Canadian beer and maple syrup.

Canada even had a Mountie in red serge as a prop flown in so the 192 foreign diplomats who were casting ballots could get a photo with him.

Foreign policy might be to blame

Some observers believe the Harper government's foreign policy is largely responsible for the outcome, including its pro-Israel stance on the Middle East, cutting foreign aid to Africa, and also the move away from UN peacekeeping and toward the Afghan mission.

However, Cannon dismissed the idea.

"I do not in any way see this as a repudiation of Canada's foreign policy," he said. "The principles underlying our foreign policy, such as freedom, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law, were the basis of all our decisions.

"Some would even say that because of our attachment to those values that we lost a seat on the council. If that's the case, then so be it."

Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Harper, said Ignatieff's earlier comments had "spread like wildfire" to diplomatic missions around the globe.

Other factors at play were that the EU and EU-aspiring countries voted as a block for Germany and Portugal, Soudas said. Moreover, some of the commitments made to support Canada did not materialize in the balloting.

Cannon rejected the notion that the Harper government's unabashed support for Israel may have cost Canada support from Arab countries.

Canada's pullout came less than 24 hours after a diplomatic row resulted in a military plane carrying Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Chief of Defence Staff Gen. Walt Natynczyk being denied permission Monday to land in the United Arab Emirates.

That dispute is linked to Canada's refusal to allow the UAE to increase passenger flights to this country. That in turn led to the UAE demanding Canada pull up stakes at its formerly secret military base near Dubai.

Soudas said he doubted that the Harper government's refusal to give more landing rights to airlines from the UAE had any bearing on the vote.

A senior government official said Canada actually got "a good chunk" of the Arab vote.

Three other two-year terms on the UN's most powerful body went uncontested to South Africa, India and Colombia.

The five new non-permanent council members replace Austria, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and Uganda, whose terms end on Dec. 31. The five members elected last year — Bosnia, Brazil, Gabon, Lebanon and Nigeria — will remain on the council until the end of 2011.

Council members are supposed to be chosen on the basis of their contributions to international peace and security, and all three have highlighted their contributions to UN peacekeeping. Canada made particular mention of its involvement in the war in Afghanistan.

With files from The Canadian Press

Source: http://news.ca.msn.com/top-stories/cbc-article.aspx?cp-documentid=25916193

OP asks: where did the tags go?