Syria conflict: Russia intensifies air strikes

Russia is increasing the number of air strikes against Islamic State in Syria, its defence ministry has said.

It said on Saturday morning that it had hit 55 Islamic State (IS) group targets in Syria in the last 24 hours.

Later, US defence officials said progress had been made during talks with their Russian counterparts on avoiding accidents over Syria.

Read more » BBC
See more » http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-34496583

Canada’s public service has been rendered ‘virtually impotent,’ former budget watchdog says

By Jason Fekete, Postmedia News

Former parliamentary budget officer Kevin Page says the federal public service is “virtually impotent” and needs an “overhaul,” but adds the government’s official road map for the future of the bureaucracy will only exacerbate the “subpar leadership” that currently exists.

Page delivers a scathing critique of the federal public service in his new book, Unaccountable: Truth and Lies on Parliament Hill. In it, he also says the future of the office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer is at risk because the current PBO isn’t qualified and the office lacks independence.

The former (and first) budget watchdog, serving from 2008 to 2013, Page writes that renewal is desperately needed in the public service and that it must come from a new generation of public servants.

“The public service in Canada needs an overhaul. Normal isn’t good enough,” he says in the 209-page account. “Just as our politicians must be held accountable for their roles in leading the country, so must our public servants be held accountable as well.”

Federal bureaucrats have struggled to keep true to the values of public service, such as serving the public interest and striving to ensure that transparency in government is upheld, he argues. Public servants were not prepared for a Conservative government that emphasized ideology over evidence-based decision-making, he says.

Read more » National Post
See more » http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/canadian-politics/canadas-public-service-has-been-eroded-to-the-point-that-it-is-virtually-impotent-kevin-page-says