Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Climate change report's 'temperature hiatus' fuels skeptics

Climate change researchers and activists say the debate is over on the science of global warming but deniers of the evidence think a 15-year pause in temperature rise is reason enough to keep questioning conclusions.

On Friday, the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change will release its summary for policy makers of the physical science basis study. This study is the first part of the IPCC's fifth Assessment Report.

GO Transit audit sparked by claims CN overbilled taxpayers

CBC News has learned more details about an internal audit called this week at GO Transit, as well as a probe by the Ontario Provincial Police's anti-corruption unit into allegations that CN Rail improperly billed taxpayers for millions of dollars in expenses during upgrades to commuter train service west of Toronto between 2005 and 2008.

“They were taking money from GO to pay their operating [costs] to maintain that ratio of the best railroad in North America, “ former CN construction supervisor Scott Holmes alleged to CBC News in an interview this week.  “They were using GO Transit as though it was a slush fund. I can prove it in a heartbeat let's just go to trial.”

Why Stephen Harper has no time for the UN

You could see just that hint of the smile Stephen Harper reserves for questions he doesn't agree with, as he waited out one such query during a media session this week with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

Why, the reporter wondered, would Harper not attend the opening of the UN General Assembly as other Canadian prime ministers have done?

A Sad Anniversary for Native Americans

"I think I can explain beyond serious doubt, that Leonard Peltier has committed no crime whatsoever," said former US Attourney General Ramsey Clark. "But that if he had been guilty of firing a gun that killed an FBI Agent, it was in defense of not just his people but the integrity of humanity from domination and exploitation."

A new effort is underway on the anniversary of Native American activist Leonard Peltier's conviction to urge President Barack Obama to grant clemency to a man Amnesty International considers to be a "political prisoner" in the United States.

Pope Francis: Sexism With a Human Face?

Pope Francis seems a lovely man. He washes the feet of prisoners, drives a Ford Focus and lives in the Vatican guesthouse instead of the isolated papal apartments. He even calls people who write him with their troubles. In July, he made headlines when he said of gay priests, “Who am I to judge?” Most recently, he astonished the world with a long interview in America, the Jesuit magazine, in which he said the church is too “obsessed” with abortion, gay rights and birth control and risked becoming a “house of cards.”

From Dr. Seuss to the Bataan Death March: Ted Cruz Does His Stuff

By the time I checked in with C-SPAN on Wednesday morning, Republican Senator Ted Cruz, of Texas, was into the twenty-first hour of his effort to prevent the Senate from funding Obamacare and keeping the government operational. Frankly, he was looking surprisingly good for it. His hair was still in place; his dark suit didn’t appear wrinkled. The only visible sign that he’d been up all night was that his top shirt button was open, and his blue necktie loose around his neck. And he was still going at it, riffing up a lengthy metaphor about how members of Congress, with their supposed exemption from the provisions of the Affordable Care Act, would be sitting in the first class of Obamacare whilst millions of Americans were loaded into coach, or even the baggage compartment.

The Harper government's war on science and knowledge

For years now, the federal government has been censuring, muzzling, de-funding, and laying off scientists, librarians, archivists, statisticians, and researchers in its efforts vacate government involvement in core research, and to shift its focus to industry-specific needs.

There are three granting councils that allocate federal funding for research in Canada: the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Council (NSERC), and the Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR). In constant dollars, from 2007-2013, base funding for SSHR has decreased by 10.1 per cent; funding for NSERC has decreased by 6.4 per cent; and funding for CIHR has decreased by 7.5 per cent. Meanwhile, NSERC funding aimed at "company-specific" problems has increased (between 2001-2012) by 1178 per cent, while success rates for CIHR grants has dropped by 61 per cent.

UN Arms Trade Treaty: Canada Refuses To Join 90 Nations In Signing

OTTAWA - The Harper government faced sharp criticism Wednesday for its continued refusal to sign a landmark treaty to regulate the global arms trade.

A group of non-governmental agencies, called the Control Arms Coalition, said it was frustrated and disappointed that the government did not follow the United States and more than 90 other countries in signing the Arms Trade Treaty.

As IPCC Warns of Climate Disaster, Will Scientific Consensus Spark Action on Global Warming?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is set to issue its strongest warning yet that climate change is caused by humans, and that the world will cause more heat waves, droughts and floods unless governments take action to drastically reduce emissions of greenhouse gasses. The IPCC report, released every six years, incorporates the key findings from thousands of articles published in scientific journals, concluding with at least 95 percent certainty that human activities have caused most of Earth’s temperature rise since 1950, and will continue to do so in the future. “Drought is the number one threat we face from climate change because it affects the two things we need to live: food and water,” says Jeff Masters, director of meteorology at the Weather Underground. We also speak to Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.

Author: -

Sabotaging Obamacare Is a Lucrative Endeavor for Some

To gain steam for his initiative to tie funding of the government to defunding Obamacare, Senator Ted Cruz appeared at events over the summer with the Tea Party Express, a political action committee. “Either continue funding the government without giving one more dime to Obamacare, or shut down the government,” demands Tea Party Express chair Amy Kremer.

The Tea Party Express, in turn, has sponsored fundraising drives to help “elect more leaders like Ted Cruz.”

Seeing through the fog of war: Graeme Smith on Canada in Afghanistan

Graeme Smith stood out among his colleagues for his comprehensive coverage of the war in Afghanistan in a 2007 to 2009 posting for the Globe and Mail. Now he is on a book tour, promoting The Dogs Are Eating Them Now: Our War in Afghanistan, published by Random House. He recently sat down for an interview with

Smith, dressed in a dark brown sports jacket, is soft spoken and modest in person. He has written a frank and honest account of his posting in southern Afghanistan in the conflict zones.

Our “Barking Mad” Democracy

The British have a vivid phrase for behaviour that is either unfathomably stupid or unconscionably reckless. That phrase is barking mad.

A lot of mad barking is being heard all over — from business elites, politicians and governments. Perhaps it’s all the hydrocarbon fumes in the air from fracking, tar sands, tar ponds, and pipelines.

Who is prepared to deny that it’s barking mad to run a pipeline through earthquake-prone British Columbia?

Does "Corporate Farming" Exist? Barely

Goaded on by small-is-good gospel, plenty of people have adopted a Manichean view of modern US farming: large, soulless corporate enterprises on one side, human-scale, artisanal operations on the other.

Take, for example, Chipotle's much-discussed new web ad, which tugs at the heartstrings by painting a haunting picture of a small-time farmer who finds himself working for—and then competing against—a fictional industrial-farming behemoth.

CFPB Takes Aim At Sallie Mae For Student Loan Servicing

A federal consumer regulator has taken aim at the Department of Education’s preferred companies for servicing the agency’s $1 trillion in student loans, highlighting potentially poor customer service and raising the specter of increased government scrutiny.

The move, in the form of a Monday blog post by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s top student loan official, relied on Education Department surveys, which grade the four preferred companies -- SLM Corp., or Sallie Mae; Nelnet; FedLoan Servicing, or the Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency; and Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation & Affiliates -- and determine how many new loans each will receive in the coming year to service as a new crop of students enter college and graduate.

Firefighters strike over pensions across England and Wales

Firefighters across England and Wales have walked out on strike in a row over pensions, with the threat of further action if the dispute is not resolved.

Members of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) left their stations and set up picket lines, leaving brigades to put contingency plans into place.

Some, including London and Surrey, were using private contractors to cover for the strikers, while others were relying on retained firefighters and volunteers. The union has not ruled out further industrial action if the dispute continues.

The Coming Hillary Clinton Train Wreck

Do people really think that a Hillary Clinton 2016 campaign is a good idea—for the Democratic Party, our collective sanity, even for her? Maybe it doesn’t matter; some political locomotives just move ahead, even if the wreck is predestined, and her campaign is now coming around the bend. There is talk of the real rollout beginning this week, which may make for slightly odd timing given that a better focus might be on introducing Obamacare, aspects of which go into effect October 1st. Bill Clinton is supposed to be helping with that. Then again, it’s also the week of the big Clinton party, the Clinton Global Initiative summit, with all sorts of worldly people in town for the General Assembly, too. That could help Hillary, who will introduce her husband and Obama at the summit tonight, and whose name, with her daughter’s, has been added to the name of the Foundation. But there are also two new magazine stories out, at least one of which won’t help her at all.

For Migrants, New Land of Opportunity Is Mexico

MEXICO CITY — Mexico, whose economic woes have pushed millions of people north, is increasingly becoming an immigrant destination. The country’s documented foreign-born population nearly doubled between 2000 and 2010, and officials now say the pace is accelerating as broad changes in the global economy create new dynamics of migration.

 Rising wages in China and higher transportation costs have made Mexican manufacturing highly competitive again, with some projections suggesting it is already cheaper than China for many industries serving the American market. Europe is sputtering, pushing workers away. And while Mexico’s economy is far from trouble free, its growth easily outpaced the giants of the hemisphere — the United States, Canada and Brazil — in 2011 and 2012, according to International Monetary Fund data, making the country more attractive to fortune seekers worldwide.

Nearly One In 10 U.S. Watersheds Is 'Stressed'; Demand For Water Outpacing Supply: CIRES Study

Nearly one in 10 watersheds in the United States is "stressed," with demand for water exceeding natural supply -- a trend that appears likely to become the new normal, according to a recent study.

"By midcentury, we expect to see less reliable surface water supplies in several regions of the United States," said Kristen Averyt, associate director for science at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado-Boulder and one of the authors of the study. “This is likely to create growing challenges for agriculture, electrical suppliers and municipalities, as there may be more demand for water and less to go around.”

B.C. Mining Protest: Company Pulling Out From Mt. Klappen

VANCOUVER - A Canadian mining company is moving to diffuse a growing dispute with First Nations over a proposed open pit coal mine in northern B.C., by pulling out of the mine site for several months.

However, Fortune Minerals (TSX:FT) said it is not leaving Mount Klappan for good, and that the company remains committed to the mine in an area considered sacred by First Nations.

"While all of Fortune's activities at the project site are focused on gathering necessary information that will be used in a B.C. environmental assessment process, ... the company has faced disruptive and damaging protests," the firm said in a statement.

Canada's Keystone Pipeline Promises, Climate Record Slammed By U.S. Environmental Coalition

OTTAWA - American environmentalists are urging the White House not to make any deals with Canada that would green-light TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline — even if America's neighbour to the north gets tougher on carbon emissions.

The letter to U.S. President Barack Obama from a coalition of environmental leaders, as well as liberal organizations, argues that Keystone cannot exist alongside efforts to contain climate change.

Environmentalists to Obama: Nix pipeline regardless of Canada's climate vows

OTTAWA - American environmentalists are urging the White House not to make any deals with Canada that would green-light TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline — even if America's neighbour to the north gets tougher on carbon emissions.

The letter to U.S. President Barack Obama from a coalition of environmental leaders, as well as liberal organizations, argues that Keystone cannot exist alongside efforts to contain climate change.

Canada's pipeline boom brings message change

After decades of being out of sight and out of mind, pipelines are booming again in Canada with proposals for 14 new or expanded oil and gas pipeline projects.

Compare that to five years ago, when there was only one project before the National Energy Board (NEB), which regulates interprovincial and international pipelines.

What's Causing Mysterious Bitumen Seepages in Alberta?

A major oil-sands company has been ordered by the Alberta government to drain two-thirds of a shallow 53-hectare lake in northern Alberta.

The order follows on the heels of several significant blowouts early this summer at Canadian Natural Resources Ltd.'s (CNRL) Primrose field at Cold Lake Air Weapons Range.

Seeping bitumen from three well sites contaminated 20 hectares of muskeg and killed numerous wildlife with more than 10,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with water.

Changes to Federal Programs Ice Vulnerable Workers: Provinces

Provincial and territorial labour market ministers expressed concern yesterday that the federal government's proposed changes to nationally-funded job programs could harm the workers most in need of help.

But with little evidence available to the public about how well the current programs are working, it's unclear which level of government is right.

On the economy, the opposition is missing a chance to score

Though the Conservatives have lost a whopping amount of support since the last election, they still hold the advantage of being seen as the best economic managers.

Opposition parties have been unable to exploit the economy’s weaknesses. They’ve been run over by the constant Conservative refrain about Canada doing better in tough times than other countries. If the Liberals and New Democrats can’t knock that pigeon over by shifting the debate out of the comparative context, they’re in trouble.

Opposition criticize Tories' 'top down' control after party fails to hold any nomination contest for four upcoming byelections

PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper is under renewed criticism for the control he is known to exercise over the federal Conservatives, after the party failed to hold even one nomination election for four byelections that could take place as early as the first week of November.

Although the Liberal Party will also head into the byelections with at least one acclaimed candidate, the NDP, which has held contested elections to select its candidates so far, is also critical of the Liberals over allegations that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau (Papineau, Que.) and his close aides favoured two winning nomination candidates in Toronto and Montreal.

AIG CEO: Bonus Uproar 'Just As Bad' As Racist Lynch Mob

Maybe you got angry about AIG paying huge bonuses just months after it nearly brought down the financial system and took a $182 billion bailout.

Well, then, you are exactly the same as a racist lynch mob in the Deep South in the Civil Rights era, according to AIG CEO Robert Benmosche.

He told The Wall Street Journal that the outcry over AIG's bonuses “was intended to stir public anger, to get everybody out there with their pitch forks and their hangman nooses, and all that -- sort of like what we did in the Deep South [decades ago]. And I think it was just as bad and just as wrong."

"It is a shame we put them through that,” he added, referring to those poor employees who got huge bonuses.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Secret case keeps Freeman from coming home

Anytime a government wants to hide its errors and illegality, it pulls down the shades of national security confidentiality and refuses to disclose any information. Time and again, the Canadian government's own cries for secrecy have been found to be without substance. Federal court decisions, judicial inquiries into complicity in torture, and various freedom of access to information requests have revealed the extent to which secrecy becomes the convenient way out from having to explain and be held accountable for lousy policy, inhumane actions and sheer incompetence.

Yet the secrecy train rolls on, whether through security certificates (a challenge to which will be heard at the Supreme Court of Canada on October 10) or in regular immigration proceedings. In the long-running case of Gary Freeman, the federal government has now invoked national security secrecy on what appears to be a foundation so slim that the slightest breeze will blow it away. Based on unsubstantiated newspaper articles and a secret file neither he nor his lawyer is allowed to see, the Canadian government alleges Freeman should not be allowed to live with his Mississauga family based on "reasonable grounds to believe" that it's possible that he may have been, could be, or will be a member of an organization that may have in the past, could at present, or may in future engage in terrorism.

Federal government puts public service compensation under microscope

Treasury Board is proceeding with a series of studies comparing the compensation of federal public servants with that received by employees in similar positions in the private and other public sectors, even though the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) is doing the same sort of study.

The Treasury Board secretariat is currently advertising for consultants to conduct the studies, which will be done over the next four years at a maximum total cost of $1.77 million, plus HST.

LNG In B.C: Clean Energy Canada Report Flags Gas Emissions

VICTORIA - British Columbia's pledge to develop the world's cleanest liquefied natural gas plants looks hazy to an environmental organization that says the province appears to be prepared to allow oil and gas companies to belch carbon emissions three-times higher than those in Australia and Norway.

A report released Monday by Clean Energy Canada, an affiliate of Tides Canada, warns that without B.C. government policy leadership, LNG produced in the province could emit more than three-times the carbon produced at other plants around the world.

Slate Pitch: Obama is the Shrewdest Political Tactician Since LBJ

The conventional view in Washington these days is that President Barack Obama is not having such a great second term and might already be suffering a bit of lame duckery. After all, he failed to overcome NRA and GOP opposition to modest gun safety legislation after the horrific the Newtown massacre, and his immigration reform push has crashed into that brick wall known as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But here's a Slate pitch: Obama is the most wily tactician in the nation's capital since Lyndon Johnson.

Is Twitter About To Get More Invasive Than Facebook?

Facebook gets all the bad press, but the bigger threat to your online privacy these days might be your Twitter account. Twitter knows you much better than you may realize. And as it prepares for an IPO, it's taking steps that may allow it to profit from your data in ways that would provoke howls of protest were Mark Zuckerberg to try the same.

Until now, by design, Twitter has mostly dodged privacy concerns. It's a given that anyone can see your tweets (unlike those beer pong photos you stupidly shared on Facebook). Twitter already analyzes your tweets, retweets, location, and the people you follow to figure out which "Promoted Tweets" (a.k.a. ads) to inject into your timeline. That's the Twitter everybody knows and accepts, but it's not the Twitter that big advertisers and investors really care about.

Ted Cruz Has a Plan to Get the America He Wants: Minority Rule

Ted Cruz has figured out how to get the America he wants: he wants to impose minority rule.

No, not majority rule, minority rule.

The senator from Texas hatched a “plan” to “defund Obamacare” by threatening to shut down the federal government. He got a lot of true-believer conservatives—especially in the Republican-controlled US House—to buy into the scheme. But the Texan never rounded up significant support for his approach in the upper chamber.

Colonialism denial finds safe haven in Canadian media

Just one day after tens of thousands people took to the streets of Vancouver in support of reconciliation, the Nanaimo Daily News once again published a racist rant making it clear that for too many Canadians, reconciliation is really about soothing the discomfort of settlers who do not want to take responsibility for Canada’s annihilationist policies which continue to decimate Indigenous peoples. The article, by Bill McRitchie, once again exhorts us to "get over it," because after all:

    "the world was a very different place in those eras [18th, 19th early 20th centuries]."

    "The concept of human rights was virtually unknown."

    "As our country matured and demographics changed through massive immigration and the evolution of our society, however, the playing field began to level."

More Colorado Oil Spills Found After Devastating Flooding

State officials in Colorado are now monitoring at least 18 oil and gas spills after floodwaters inundated one of the most densely drilled areas in the United States.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reported Monday that the agency found two additional notable spills over the weekend -- a 36 barrel release of oil between Evans and LaSalle at a Noble Energy site and a 26 barrel release at an Anadarko site near Johnstown -- and is now tracking eight total spills classified as "notable" and 10 additional spills where there is "some evidence of release of oil."

Bank Of America To Pay $2.18 Million In Racial Discrimination Case

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp was ordered to pay $2.18 million to 1,147 black job applicants over racial discrimination in hiring that kept qualified candidates from getting jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Monday.

The decision by Linda Chapman, an administrative law judge at the Labor Department, awards back pay and interest to former candidates for teller and entry-level administrative and clerical positions in the bank's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Guantanamo Officials Stop Daily Release Of Hunger Strike Numbers

WASHINGTON -- Military officials at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp announced on Monday that they would stop automatically releasing the numbers of detainees being tracked as hunger strikers and those being force-fed. The hunger strike, which began in February and once involved the vast majority of Guantanamo's low-value detainees, has been carried on by just 19 of the facility's 164 prisoners for the past two weeks.

BlackBerry to be sold to group led by Fairfax Financial

Troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry has signed a provisional agreement to be bought by a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, which already owns approximately 10 per cent of the publicly traded shares in the Waterloo, Ont.-based company.

Trading of the company's shares was temporarily halted on the Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange early afternoon Monday after BlackBerry announced the deal, which is still subject to due diligence. Trading resumed around 2 p.m. ET.

Marla Ruzicka’s Heroism

Arifa had lost nearly everything when Marla Ruzicka walked through the door and into her life. The American intervention in Afghanistan had started just weeks before. A US bomb missed its target by three miles and landed instead on Arifa’s home, leaving her a widow at the age of 30. She buried her husband, eldest son and six other family members under small, chipped stone markers on a dirt street outside Kabul.

To Arifa, Marla must have seemed to be from a different world, and in many ways she was. A quintessential California girl, Marla was gregarious and full of can-do optimism. But Afghanistan was sinking into her skin. The stories of all the wounded civilians deeply affected her as she traveled across the country in 2002. How could it be that her own country had no idea how many people were being harmed by its combat operations? How could it be that their loved ones received nothing for their losses?

Will California Choose Prisons Over Schools—Again?

Last fall in California, a broad coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, advocates and unions came together to help pass Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s bid to raise taxes to increase state revenues for schools. To sell them on the initiative, Brown told voters, “Money into our schools or money out of our schools. It’s really stark…. The California dream is built on great public schools and colleges and universities.” Prop 30’s passage was a notable victory, with more than 55 percent of voters approving the measure despite a barrage of negative advertising paid for by out-of-state anti-tax groups. For the first time in a decade, thanks to Prop 30, the State of California is likely looking at a budget surplus.

How Chicago Killed an Innocent Man

I vividly recall the photo: Anthony Porter, who came within forty-eight hours of execution after seventeen years behind bars, exits the Cook County Correctional Facility in Illinois in February 1999, a free man. He sees Northwestern University journalism professor David Protess, who, along with his students, uncovered new evidence of Porter’s innocence, and gives him a massive bear hug, lifting him off the ground. It’s an incredibly powerful image, proof of how journalism can right terrible wrongs.

After starting the Innocence Project at the Medill School of Journalism in 1999, Protess and his students freed twelve wrongfully convicted prisoners, including five from death row. Their work helped lead to a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois, followed by Governor George Ryan’s historic emptying of the state’s death row. In 2011, Illinois abolished the death penalty altogether.

Women politicians and the search for trust in politics

It may not have occurred to you, but 85 per cent of Canadians now have a woman as premier. Only five smaller provinces -- the three Maritimes plus Manitoba and Saskatchewan -- don't.

I hadn't thought too much about why this would be until one night, while watching the news, Alberta's Alison Redford and Ontario's Kathleen Wynne came on one after the other. Instead of feeling prickly and grumpy regarding whatever the issue was, as would likely have been the case had it been their predecessors, Ed Stelmach and Dalton McGuinty, I found myself inexplicably relaxed and even charmed, and saying to myself: Why can't we have one of those here?

Canada's rejection of inquiry into violence against Aboriginal women is a national disgrace

In 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva conducted a Universal Period Review of Canada's rights record and concluded its need to address the concerns of indigenous populations -- particularly, Aboriginal women.

During that year, fifty submissions slammed Canada on topics from labour rights to foreign policy and highlighted the country in the worst way among the 192 UN member states. According to a report by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, Alex Neve said: "The Canadian record of upholding the rights of indigenous peoples is a real disgrace and a source of national shame... These are not political, economic or natural resource matters. These are issues of human rights."

Corroding Our Democracy: Canada Silences Scientists, Targets Environmentalists in Tar Sands Push

Five years ago this month, the firm TransCanada submitted a permit request to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project has sparked one of the nation’s most contentious environmental battles in decades. The Obama administration initially appeared ready to approve Keystone XL, but an unprecedented wave of activism from environmentalists and residents of the states along its path has forced several delays. Among those pressuring Obama for Keystone XL’s approval is the Canadian government, which recently offered a greater pledge of reduced carbon emissions if the pipeline is built. We’re joined by one of Canada’s leading environmental activists, Tzeporah Berman, who has campaigned for two decades around clean energy, and is the former co-director of Greenpeace International’s Climate Unit. She is now focused on stopping tar sands extraction as a member of the steering committee for the Tar Sands Solutions Network. Berman is also the co-founder of ForestEthics and is the author of the book "This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Challenge." Berman discusses how the Canadian government is muzzling scientists speaking out on global warming, quickly changing environmental laws, and why she believes the push for tar sands extraction has created a "perfect storm" of grassroots activism bring together environmentalists, indigenous communities and rural landowners.

Author: --

Tens of thousands walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver

Tens of thousands participated in the Reconciliation Walk in Vancouver on Sunday, capping a week of events coinciding with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) hearings into the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.

First Nations, civil society groups and local politicians walked along with tens of thousands on a rainy morning to mark the culmination of Reconciliation Week. The event was supported by the City of Vancouver, who earlier this year proclaimed a Year of Reconciliation.

Judge takes time to decide if Khadr is serving time as youth or adult

EDMONTON - An Edmonton judge deciding if former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr should be transferred from a federal prison says his ruling will come down to whether he believes the 27-year-old is serving time as a youth or an adult.

Justice John Rooke said Monday that the U.S. military did not specify that when it handed Khadr an eight-year sentence for killing an American special forces soldier in Afghanistan when Khadr was 15.

Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crime offences, including murder, in 2010.

Boehner Basks In Brief Glory As Doomed Budget Passes House

To a newcomer, the hearty ovation might have suggested that John Boehner was the Republican Party’s conquering hero.

When Boehner strolled Friday into the ornate Rayburn Room on the second floor of the Capitol, he found a triumphant tableau: his entire conference, hooting and cheering under the crystal chandeliers, packed against walnut walls the color of the speaker’s skin. Boehner took his place at the center under a painting of George Washington, as GOP whip Kevin McCarthy heralded the day’s “bipartisan” achievement.

Gender Pay Gap Likely Won't Go Away Until After You Retire: Study

gender pay gapMost women that are employed today will probably retire before they see pay equality in the workplace.

That's because the gender wage gap -- or the difference between average full-time pay for women and men -- isn't expected to close until 2058, according to a projection from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank focused on women’s policy issues.

Egypt Bans Muslim Brotherhood

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood and the confiscation of its assets, opening the door for authorities to dramatically accelerate a crackdown on the extensive network of schools, hospitals, charities and other social institutions that was the foundation of the group's political power.

Security forces have already been moving against the Brotherhood's social networks, raiding schools and hospitals run by the group since the military's July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: Why I have gone on hunger strike

Beginning Monday, 23 September, I am going on hunger strike. This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation.

The penal colony administration refuses to hear me. But I, in turn, refuse to back down from my demands. I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights; I demand that the Mordovia camp function in accordance with the law. I demand that we be treated like human beings, not slaves.

'Which Will Win, Wisdom or Greed?'

[Editor's note: In A Short History of Progress, his bestselling 2004 Massey Lecture, Ronald Wright questioned the uncritical embrace of progress by examining the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. The book became a surprise international hit that led to Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary Surviving Progress, which used his ideas to explore how close our own civilization is to the edge. Wright, who read archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge, spent several years in South America, and now lives in B.C., is the author of nine books including Stolen Continents, Time Among the Maya, and the dystopic novel A Scientific Romance, in which an archaeologist travels 500 years into the future to survey what remains. On Sept. 26 at 5 p.m., he will give a free public lecture at UBC's Cecil Green Park House as part of the "Utopia/Dystopia: Creating the Worlds We Want" lecture series organized by the Creative Writing Program and Green College. Wright will outline what he calls the 'Progress Traps' that threaten our civilization and the natural world on which it depends, assessing what has changed -- for better and ill -- in the years since he sounded his original warning of what may lie ahead. Wright recently corresponded with Radovan Zuffa for the Slovakian magazine Profit. Here, excerpted from that interview, is what he had to say...]

BC's Worker-Owned Mill Success Story

It was the summer of 2008, hardly the ideal setting for the beginning of a forestry fairytale.

The global economy was on the brink of collapse and thousands of British Columbian forestry workers had already lost their jobs. Dozens of mills had either shuttered their gates for good or cut back on production as the U.S. housing market crumbled.

Harper’s sudden change of strategy needed to woo B.C. natives on pipeline

So now Stephen Harper needs the Indians.

It seems everybody does these days – for all the wrong reasons.

According to sources who have seen Harper consultant Doug Eyford’s confidential report, Stephen Harper’s bureaucrats have not done him any favours in moving the Northern Gateway file forward. Eyford told the PM that genuine engagement with First Nations is the only path left. For a variety of reasons, selling the pipeline to First Nations leaders is now an unofficial panic situation.

Silencing Scientists

Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands — source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.

There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.

New York Times criticizes Harper government’s alleged muzzling of scientists

OTTAWA — The New York Times editorial board is taking the Harper government to task for allegedly silencing publicly funded scientists, a strategy the Times says is designed to ensure oilsands production proceeds quietly.

The strongly worded Sunday editorial comes as the PR fight over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is heating up, with U.S. President Barack Obama yet to make a decision on whether to approve the project that would transport bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to the U.S. Gulf Coast.