The Countdown is On

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The countdown is on until the United States defaults on its national debt. Just 11 days remain before the deadline to raise the debt ceiling for the country. If it is not raised the United States will be forced to default on its $14 trillion deficit on the August 2nd deadline. The issue has arisen after the Republican Party has decided to hold the vote hostage to force Obama to bend to some of their demands. Continue reading ‘The Countdown is On.’

International Voluntarism vs. Jus Cogens

There is an odd contrast between the idea that some laws are considered jus cogens, and the apparently voluntary nature of international law.

If a law is considered jus cogens it means that it cannot be violated anywhere in the world, no matter what the laws of a country may or may not say. These peremptory norms can be reached through a number of rather unclear means, such as UN convention or simply through world public opinion. For example, genocide is a jus cogens offense as declared by the UN Convention on Genocide, and slavery is considered jus cogens simply because everyone thinks that it is wrong. As well, any law or treaty that violates these norms is void under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. Continue reading ‘International Voluntarism vs. Jus Cogens.’

Canada: The New America?

There has been a sharp change in the nature of Canadian politics over the last few years. Canada’s political scene has been typified by a politeness and respect not found in many other developed nations. It was a cross between Britain without the heckling in parliament and America without the sharp contrasts in policy. And Stephen Harper has been the one to change all that.

Starting in 2006, and continuing through the 2011 elections campaign, Canadians saw for the first time serious attack ads coming from the Conservative Party. These were followed, no less, by similar responses from the Liberals and NDP. These attack ads take comments out of context and target personal traits and faults in MPs and party leaders. Mostly, they are a tool of fear-mongering politicians to convince voters that the world will end if the other side gets into power. Attack ads are the sign of weakness of a party (and I am pointing fingers at all Canadian parties here), they are done based on a fear that when policies line up there will not be enough to differentiate one from one’s opponent. Continue reading ‘Canada: The New America?.’

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