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, June 06, 2013

The N.S.A.-Verizon Scandal

On Wednesday night, Glenn Greenwald, of the Guardian, posted a classified order from the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that everyone should read. It directs a Verizon division, Verizon Business Network Services, to turn over “on an ongoing daily basis” the “following tangible things”:

    All call detail records or “telephony metadata” created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.

Middle Class Jobs, Income Quickly Disappearing (INFOGRAPHIC)

As President Obama continues his “Middle Class Jobs and Opportunities Tour" in Mooresville, N.C., on Thursday, middle-class Americans continue to experience historic losses of jobs and opportunities. The recession eliminated many mid-wage jobs, leaving moderately educated workers to take low-wage jobs if they can find work at all.

While the Obama administration has trumpeted job growth in recent months, the middle class is taking home a shrinking portion of the country's income. Deep job losses in occupations such as construction, information technology, manufacturing and insurance are not likely to recover. Middle-class families also saw nearly 30 percent of their wealth disappear over the past decade, while the cost of goods and services they rely upon steadily climbed.

Debbie Stabenow Pledges To Oppose Monsanto Protection Act Extension Without Full Debate

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), the chairwoman of the Agriculture Committee, pledged to oppose the extension of the so-called the Monsanto Protection Act, a victory for advocates who have been pressing for its repeal.

Stabenow made her pledge in a conversation with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who has been pushing the Senate to vote on an amendment to the farm bill that would repeal the provision. That vote was blocked by Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and on Thursday morning the Senate voted to end debate and move to final passage.

Elizabeth Warren Insurance Deregulation Amendment Raises Federal Standard For Agents

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee on Thursday approved new bipartisan legislation to deregulate the insurance industry, but not before Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) snagged a small victory for consumers.

The deregulation bill, authored by Sens. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) and Mike Johanns (R-Neb.), will create a new federal licensing program for insurance agents that would replace the current state-by-state system.

Jim Sensenbrenner, Patriot Act Author, Slams 'Un-American' NSA Verizon Phone Records Grab

WASHINGTON -- Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), one of the authors of the Patriot Act, said in a Thursday letter to Attorney General Eric Holder that he is "extremely troubled" by the National Security Agency's seizure of the phone records of millions of Verizon customers through a secret court ruling.

“I do not believe the released FISA order is consistent with the requirements of the Patriot Act,” Sensenbrenner wrote. “How could the phone records of so many innocent Americans be relevant to an authorized investigation as required by the Act?”

"Seizing phone records of millions of innocent people is excessive and un-American," he added in a press release that accompanied the letter.

NSA Spying: An Obama Scandal?

In recent months, the Republicans have been desperately hunting for an Obama scandal—with little success. A Benghazi cover-up? Oops, the emails released by the White House (at the urging of the GOPers) showed nothing improper. A Nixonian scheme to use the IRS to punish political enemies? The Treasury Department inspector general who investigated the IRS targeting of tea-party-ish groups seeking nonprofit status declared there was no evidence this political profiling was prompted by anyone outside the IRS division. With the revelation that the National Security Agency is sweeping up the telephone records of Americans suspected of no wrongdoing, though, the Obama gang may finally have a real scandal on its hand—not a scandal of wrongdoing or unethical conduct, but one of government overreach. Yet, as White House officials are already pointing out to reporters, if this is a scandal, it is a bipartisan scandal, for Congress has approved this wide-ranging, super-secret, domestic surveillance program.

10 Reasons Why Harper Isn't Really Canadian

In a Global interview with Laura Stone, I am quoted as saying that Stephen Harper is "not Canadian."

Having lunch with a reporter on virtually no sleep is a high risk proposition, but I didn't say anything I didn't mean. I did make it clear that I was not saying Mr. Harper is "not Canadian." What I did say was that Stephen Harper's political orientation was informed by an American/ Republican approach to politics. In other words, I am not, like the crazed anti-Obama crowd asking him to produce his birth certificate. The issue is this: unlike any prime minister in our history -- Liberal or Conservative -- Mr. Harper reflects a political culture foreign to Canada.

Everything is happening to the Conservatives

It’s been an interesting couple of days for the Conservative party, quite apart from the ongoing questions surrounding the expense scandal in the Senate. Let’s review.

Elections Canada

On Tuesday, Stephen Maher and Glen McGregor at Postmedia revealed that two weeks ago, Elections Canada sent a letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer, asking that he suspend two Conservative MPs due to their apparent “failure to file campaign documents from the 2011 election.” As it turns out, Marc Mayrand, the chief electoral officer, told Scheer that one of those MPs – James Bezan – has “failed to correct his electoral campaign returns for the 39th, 40th, and 41st general elections.” The Speaker has yet to inform the House of Commons of the letter.

Hundreds rally in support of Hupacasath legal challenge to Canada-China FIPA

Hundreds of people rallied in Vancouver in solidarity with the Hupacasath First Nation, which is in federal court June 5 to 7 to challenge the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA). The injunction against the FIPA, which has support from the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, Chiefs of Ontario, and a dozen other civil society groups including the Council of Canadians, is based on the impacts the treaty's excessive corporate "rights" could have on Indigenous communities and the Government of Canada's failure to consult with First Nations before signing the deal late last year.

Don't be fooled by the numbers: Funding health care is a political decision

New Brunswick is fighting to keep their public health care. The Alward government is planning to cut 131 health-care jobs and find an additional $12 million in savings.

Health Minister Flemming commissioned a report that recommended $250 million in cuts. Flemming is currently floating trial balloons on policies such as emergency room closures, hospital closures and large layoffs. Of course, he's telling the public that none of this will come at a cost to patient services.

Toronto G20 police assault trial: Adam Nobody accused of fomenting unrest

A lawyer is accusing a man beaten by police at a Toronto G20 protest at Queens Park with trying to foment unrest among demonstrators before officers finally caught up and arrested him.

“I’m going to suggest to you that you were confronting a line of police on University Ave.,” said defence lawyer Harry Black as he cross-examined Adam Nobody Thursday.

Over a period of four hours, Black went on, Nobody was trying to encourage demonstrators to resist police requests to move back.

Revealed: Letters From Republicans Seeking Obamacare Money

Even before President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law, Republicans were vowing to repeal it. It’s no wonder, because polls showed that the basic elements of the ACA were quite popular, and there was a real danger that it would become more so as people found out that the plan denounced as a “monstrosity” by the National Republican Senatorial Committee would not trample on their liberties so much as help protect their health. Desperate to avoid this, the GOP-controlled House has voted no fewer than thirty-seven times to repeal Obamacare in the three years since it was enacted.

It’s Worse Than You Thought: NSA Spying and the Patriot Act

“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Never has Joseph Heller’s observation from Catch-22 been more apt than today, as news spreads that the National Security Agency has been using the Patriot Act to sweep up phone call data on every Verizon Business Network customer in the nation—and presumably on residential and cell phone customers as well. Last night, The Guardian published a secret court order, issued under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, that requires Verizon Business Network Services to provide “on an ongoing daily basis” phone records for all “communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” The data to be provided includes the numbers called, the length and time of calls and other routing information, but does not include the actual content of the calls. But the government can learn an awful lot about an individual simply by tracing whom he or she is calling, how often and for how long.

If Harper is 'outraged' about election fraud he has a strange way of showing it

The Rideau Institute, an Ottawa-based think tank, gave a leadership award on Wednesday to Steven Shrybman, the lawyer who handled the so-called 'robocall' court case.

Shrybman represented six Canadians who sought to overturn the 2011 election in their ridings because of fraud.

In one sense, he and the six lost that case.

Federal Court Judge Richard Mosley ruled there was insufficient evidence that fraudulent activities had had an impact on the election results and denied the applicants’ request to annul the 2011 results and order by-elections.

The straw that broke the camel's back: A look at the protests in Turkey

Ongoing protests in Turkey represent a popular outburst against gradual encroachment of civil liberties and suppression of dissenting views by the Islamist-rooted government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The culmination of the following issues have created discontent among sizeable portions of society and led to spontaneous uprisings comprising people from every walk of life and a wide range of political affiliation.

-Freedom of speech and media: The number of jailed journalists in Turkey tops China and Iran. Moreover, a growing culture of self-censorship in the mainstream media resulting from sustained government pressure and a prioritization of corporate interests over those of the public has meant that mainstream media outlets have lost their independence and credibility. At the height of the events, Turkish TV channels were running their regular broadcasting.

Addressing the crisis of poverty and hunger in the U.S.

The 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is rapidly approaching, commemorating the historic Aug. 28, 1963, March on Washington.

But 45 years ago, 1968, the year of his assassination, King was waging the Poor People's Campaign to eradicate poverty. He addressed the congregation at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., saying: "We are challenged to rid our nation and the world of poverty. Like a monstrous octopus, poverty spreads its nagging, prehensile tentacles into hamlets and villages all over our world. Two-thirds of the people of the world go to bed hungry tonight. They are ill-housed; they are ill-nourished; they are shabbily clad. I've seen it in Latin America; I've seen it in Africa; I've seen this poverty in Asia."

Memories of a Public Square

In order to make sense of the protests in Taksim Square, in Istanbul, this week, and to understand those brave people who are out on the street, fighting against the police and choking on tear gas, I’d like to share a personal story. In my memoir, “Istanbul,” I wrote about how my whole family used to live in the flats that made up the Pamuk apartment block, in Nişantaşı. In front of this building stood a fifty-year-old chestnut tree, which is thankfully still there. In 1957, the municipality decided to cut the tree down in order to widen the street. The presumptuous bureaucrats and authoritarian governors ignored the neighborhood’s opposition. When the time came for the tree to be cut down, our family spent the whole day and night out on the street, taking turns guarding it. In this way, we not only protected our tree but also created a shared memory, which the whole family still looks back on with pleasure, and which binds us all together.

Wildfire Smoke A Rising Health Concern With Climate Change

Suffocating smoke blew into the streets and schools of Cashmere, Wash., in September -- the billowing byproduct of wildfires blazing in forests surrounding the town and a harbinger of what experts say is a public health threat that increases with climate change.

"Everyone was in third period," ninth-grader Hugo Pina told Seattle's KING 5 News. "We were all studying. Students said their heads hurt. They couldn't breathe."

League Of Conservation Voters Chairman Scott Nathan Invests Heavily In BP Through Hedge Fund

WASHINGTON -- The chairman of the board of a leading environmental advocacy group is also a hedge fund manager, and his firm is heavily invested in the oil giant BP, according to financial documents.

League of Conservation Voters Chairman Scott Nathan is chief risk officer at The Baupost Group, a major hedge fund, and a member of the firm's management committee, which oversees investments.

Ecuador Oil Spill Pollutes Amazon Tributary

QUITO, Ecuador -- Ecuador's state oil company resumed pumping through the country's main pipeline on Tuesday, four days after it was damaged by a landslide. But crude spilled by the accident reached tributaries of the Amazon River and polluted drinking water for a regional capital far downstream.

Petroecuador issued a statement saying pumping resumed at 9:15 a.m. (1415 GMT) through the Trans-Ecuador pipeline and it said the flow should be back to normal within hours. Closure of the line had forced Petroecuador to accelerate three 360,000-barrel shipments of oil for China to free storage space.

Bradley Manning's Legal Duty to Expose War Crimes

The court-martial of Bradley Manning, the most significant whistleblower case since Daniel Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers, has begun. Although Manning pled guilty earlier this year to 10 offenses that will garner him 20 years in custody, military prosecutors insist on pursuing charges of aiding the enemy and violation of the Espionage Act, carrying life in prison. The Obama administration, which has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all prior presidencies combined, seeks to send a strong message to would-be whistleblowers to keep their mouths shut.

A legal duty to report war crimes

Manning is charged with crimes for sending hundreds of thousands of classified files, documents and videos, including the "Collateral Murder" video, the "Iraq War Logs," the "Afghan War Logs" and State Department cables to Wikileaks. Many of the things he transmitted contain evidence of war crimes.

The Right to Evade Regulation - How corporations hijacked the First Amendment

Every time you fill a prescription at a drug store like Walgreens, the pharmacy keeps a record of the transaction, noting information such as your name, the drug, the dosage, and the issuing doctor. It’s a routine bit of bookkeeping, and for a long time it raised few eyebrows. Then a firm called IMS Health starting buying up the data. Mining pharmacy records, the company assembled profiles of hundreds of thousands of American doctors and millions of individual patients, with names and other identifying details encrypted. IMS Health turned around and sold access to those files to pharmaceutical companies, making it easier for the firms to target (and reward) the physicians most likely to prescribe expensive, brand-name drugs.

Syria's Qusair Captured By Syrian Army

BAALBEK, Lebanon — Syrian troops and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies captured a strategic border town Wednesday after a grueling three-week battle, dealing a severe blow to rebels and opening the door for President Bashar Assad's regime to seize back the country's central heartland.

The regime triumph in Qusair, which Assad's forces had bombarded for months without success, demonstrates the potentially game-changing role of Hezbollah in Syria's civil war. The gain could also embolden Assad to push for all-out military victory rather than participate in peace talks being promoted by the United States and Russia.

Funding cuts to major aboriginal political groups undermine ‘potential for progress,’ Chief Shawn Atleo says

OTTAWA — The Harper government is slashing funding to several major aboriginal political organizations — including the Assembly of First Nations — a surprise move that the group’s national chief says flies in the face of the government’s stated intention to work with First Nations.

A letter from Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, sent to 43 Aboriginal representative organizations and obtained by Postmedia News, outlines changes to the way the groups will be funded, including sharp reductions in dollars.

Harper's 'iPod tax' will sting

The head of the Canadian Association of Importers and Exporters has launched a blistering attack on the Conservative government for what she's calling its "quest for cash" that is hurting business and will cost consumers.

Joy Nott, the president of I.E. Canada, is wading into an ongoing dispute between a coalition of television importers and the Canadian Border Services Agency over what critics are calling the Harper government's "iPod tax."

Peter MacKay would consider leaving Conservatives if leadership selection rules changed

Peter MacKay says he would think about leaving the Conservative Party he helped found, if the rules currently in place to choose the next leader are changed at the party’s convention in Calgary later this month.

Asked about the implications of proposed changes to introduce one member, one vote for the next leader, Mr. MacKay said on Wednesday: “People would leave the party.”

Asked if he would be one of them, he replied: “I’d think about it. It would be a very different party with a very different future.”

Did he jump or was he pushed? Outspoken Tory MP goes over the side

TORONTO -- From Rob Ford to Brent Rathgeber in a single day -- talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous! Or is that the other way around?

I confess that I was gobsmacked by the revelation yesterday Brent Rathgeber, the Conservative Member of Parliament for the Alberta community where I live, has pulled the plug on membership in the Harper Conservatives because of his erstwhile party's determined commitment to opacity in government.

Rathgeber put it the other way, of course. He complained in a resignation Tweet about the "lack of commitment to transparency and open government" by Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Reform Party, which does business under the name of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Human Rights Clause in EU Pact Gives Harper Gov't Pause

It's good that the Canada-Europe Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) negotiations have stalled. But the cause of the most recent impasse is a damning comment on the Harper government's thinking.

To conclude the CETA negotiations, the Conservatives have been willing to undercut municipalities' right to "buy local," grant foreign investors special rights to sue governments and significantly increase drug costs, but they are drawing the line on human rights commitments. According to a recent Embassy article, a significant stumbling block to finalizing CETA negotiations with the European Union is a political text that commits both sides to basic human rights standards.

Embattled Stephen Harper now under attack from fiscal right

More cracks are appearing in the conservative coalition that keeps Stephen Harper in power as prime minister.

The latest stress point is a damning critique of Harper’s economic policy by the head of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, a right-of-centre organization that is usually friendly to, if not always onside with, the federal Conservative government.

Entitled “Judging Harper by his own fiscal standards,” the essay by Gregory Thomas, federal director of the low-tax advocacy group, appeared in this week’s Globe and Mail.

MP Brent Rathgeber quits Tory caucus

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper has suffered another blow as a Tory MP quit the Conservative caucus Wednesday night, decrying the Conservatives’ lack of progress on open government.

Alberta MP Brent Rathgeber made public his decision on Twitter, saying he had informed the board of directors for his riding association and the Speaker of the Commons that he had resigned from the Conservative caucus.

Pamela Wallin earned approximately $1 million as corporate director since Senate appointment

OTTAWA—Pamela Wallin has a lucrative life outside politics, where she has been entitled to roughly $1 million in fees and stock options for her role on corporate boards since being appointed to the Senate.

The Star looked through public company profiles, her disclosures to the Senate ethics office and expenses related to her former role as chancellor at the University of Guelph to paint a picture of her non-political activities in advance of the release of a review of her travel expenses by the forensic accounting firm Deloitte.

Doug Ford falsely accuses sick colleague of ruining meeting

Councillor Doug Ford launched an inaccurate attack on a member of Mayor Rob Ford’s hand-picked executive committee on Wednesday, falsely saying that Councillor Jaye Robinson’s absence from city hall forced a committee to cancel a scheduled meeting.

“Jaye Robinson is running around and saying the mayor should step away for a month. Well, today Jaye Robinson didn’t show up to the civic appointments meeting. We had to cancel the whole meeting, so we all have to come back for two or three more days,” Doug Ford said in an interview with CP24’s Stephen LeDrew.

Bilderberg 2013: welcome to 1984

The auditorium grew hushed as a senior Watford borough councillor took to his feet. The police liaison team looked nervous. They had made their presentation and laid out their plans for this "unique event": the anti-terrorism zones, the identity checks, the restriction on vehicles stopping in the vicinity of this "important international conference". But now it was the turn of the people of Watford to speak.

Six Canadians invited to secretive Bilderberg conference

Indigo Books and Music founder Heather Reisman
 is one of six Canadians invited to this year's exclusive
 Bilderberg conference in Hertfordshire, England.
Six Canadians are among the powerful group of business leaders, academics and media invited to this year’s highly secretive Bilderberg conference, according to the official guest list.

The annual conference, which starts Thursday in Hertfordshire, U.K., is a private, off-the-record event where participants can freely share thoughts about issues of mutual concern to Europe and North America, according to the group’s website.

The high-profile, invitation-only list this year includes such household names as Henry Kissinger, a former U.S. Secretary of State; David Petraeus, the U.S. army general who retired as head of the CIA amid a sex scandal; and Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of

Police Beating In Jasper, Texas, Prompts Civil Suit From Keyarika Diggles

A violent confrontation between an African-American woman and local law enforcement in Jasper, Texas, has the racially troubled town in the news again.

KJAS reports that the Jasper City Council on Monday voted unanimously to fire two white police officers, Ricky Grissom and Ryan Cunningham, after video from security cameras surfaced recently of the pair beating 25-year-old Keyarika Diggles at police headquarters. The council also unanimously passed a motion to direct the city's district attorney to consider criminal charges against the officers.

CIA didn't always know who it was killing in drone strikes, classified documents show

The CIA did not always know who it was targeting and killing in drone strikes in Pakistan over a 14-month period, an NBC News review of classified intelligence reports shows.

About one of every four of those killed by drones in Pakistan between Sept. 3, 2010, and Oct. 30, 2011, were classified as "other militants,” the documents detail. The “other militants” label was used when the CIA could not determine the affiliation of those killed, prompting questions about how the agency could conclude they were a threat to U.S. national security.

NSA collecting phone records of millions of Verizon customers daily

The National Security Agency is currently collecting the telephone records of millions of US customers of Verizon, one of America's largest telecoms providers, under a top secret court order issued in April.

The order, a copy of which has been obtained by the Guardian, requires Verizon on an "ongoing, daily basis" to give the NSA information on all telephone calls in its systems, both within the US and between the US and other countries.

Historic Treaty settlement to be signed this afternoon

More than 1000 Tuhoe people are expected at Parliament this afternoon to witness the historic signing of the iwi's deed of settlement with the Crown.

Tuhoe has had one of the most strained relationships with the Crown throughout history, and the iwi's negotiator Tamati Kruger said this morning that the $170 million settlement would help redress that.

Always Low Wages: Meet the Billionaires Who Run Walmart

This week Walmart shareholders will gather in the retail giant’s Arkansas backyard and re-elect a board of directors charged with guiding the company over the coming years. Walmart’s board—rife with billionaires and industry titans—has recently become a lightning rod for company critics. During their lengthy and high-profile business careers, several board members have faced allegations—from worker exploitation to financial malfeasance—that parallel those facing Walmart itself.

Obama-Backed Trans-Pacific Partnership Expands Corporate Lawsuits Against Nations for Lost Profits

The Obama administration is facing increasing scrutiny for the extreme secrecy surrounding negotiations around a sweeping new trade deal that could rewrite the nation’s laws on everything from healthcare and Internet freedom to food safety and the financial markets. The latest negotiations over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) were recently held behind closed doors in Lima, Peru, but the Obama administration has rejected calls to release the current text. Even members of Congress have complained about being shut out of the negotiation process. Last year, a leaked chapter from the draft agreement outlined how the TPP would allow foreign corporations operating in the United States to appeal key regulations to an international tribunal. The body would have the power to override U.S. law and issue penalties for failure to comply with its rulings.

We discuss the TPP with two guests: Celeste Drake, a trade policy specialist with the AFL-CIO, and Jim Shultz, executive director of the Democracy Center, which has just released a new report on how corporations use trade rules to seize resources and undermine democracy. "What is the biggest threat to the ability of corporations to go into a country and suck out the natural resources without any regard for the environment or labor standards? The threat is democracy," Shultz says. "The threat is that citizens will be annoying and get in the way and demand that their governments take action. So what corporations need is to become more powerful than sovereign states. And the way they become more powerful is by tangling sovereign states in a web of these trade agreements."

Author: --

A Female President and the Power of Symbolism: A Response to Amy Schiller

In recent piece titled “The Feminist Case Against A Woman President,” Amy Schiller critiques Nation columnist Jessica Valenti for proposing that she would vote for a female president in 2016. In her piece, “Why I’m Voting For Her,” Valenti essentially said that she was “fed up” with the endless cycle of sexism and thought electing America’s first woman—while acknowledging that women candidates do not guarantee feminist outcome—would be a “hopeful reminder of progress made.”

Senate, Military Brass Clash on Handling Sexual Assault

Through eight nearly uninterrupted hours of testimony on Capitol Hill Tuesday, nobody—not the Joint Chiefs of Staff, representing each branch of the military, nor the top judge advocates general for each service, nor any of the assembled senators on the Armed Services committee—contested that military sexual assault has reached crisis proportions.

The numbers lead to that indisputable conclusion: “unwanted sexual contact” cases have risen 35 percent in the last two years alone. Up to 45 percent of women in the military experience sexual assault or unwanted contact at some point, and the Department of Defense itself estimates that as many as 86 percent of sexual assault cases go unreported. And women in the military are nine times as likely to develop post-traumatic stress disorder if they’ve experienced sexual assault in the military, even when controlling for combat exposure.

Turkish Protests Are About Democracy, Not Religion

Protests in Istanbul rage on after police violence transformed an occupation by a handful of activists in a public park into massive anti-government demonstrations around the country.

The occupation of Gezi Park, located in Istanbul’s central Taksim Square, was initially spurred on by government plans to develop a shopping mall over the park, one of the last remaining green spaces in the sprawling metropolis. Media outside of Turkey wrongly characterized this as a tree-hugging environmental protest, rather than a battle over the nature of urban space. After the protests became world news, Western media got it wrong again by characterizing the uproar as a revolt against Islamic influence in Turkish politics.

Bradley Manning's Informant: On Adrian Lamo

Pity the wretched Adrian Lamo! The genius hacker is a celebrity among the digerati and DefCon regulars, but to those of outside those circles, Lamo looks pretty much like every other police informant: a convicted felon with a history of mental illness. (Lamo was involuntarily committed just a few weeks before he was contacted by Pfc. Manning from Forward Operating Base Hammer in Iraq.) So much of what we know about Manning is from the six-day conversation between him and Lamo via instant-message chats in May of 2010 when the soldier still deployed at FOB Hammer in Iraq, the hacker at home in California. The (nearly) unexpurgated logs were published by Wired in July 2011 and they are a twenty-first-century non-fiction novella written in the abbreviated online lingo of the millennials. Manning does nearly all of the chatting: about his childhood, his life as a high school graduate on his own living out of his car in the Chicago O’Hare parking lot, his aspirations for college, what he saw and did and was asked to do but did not do in the US military and why he became a Wikileaks source.

NSA Whistleblowers: "All U.S. Citizens" Targeted by Surveillance Program, Not Just Verizon Customers

A leaked court order has revealed the Obama administration is conducting a massive domestic surveillance program by collecting telephone records of millions of Verizon customers. The Guardian newspaper published a classified order issued by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court directing Verizon’s Business Network Services to give the National Security Agency electronic data, including all calling records on an "ongoing, daily basis." The order covers each phone number dialed by all customers, along with location and routing data, and with the duration and frequency of the calls, but not the contents of the communications.

Obama National Security Policy Wasn't Bait And Switch, Journalist Says

Liberals who criticize President Barack Obama for what they perceive as a bait and switch on national security "just weren't really listening that closely" during his campaign for the presidency, journalist Jeremy Scahill told HuffPost Live on Tuesday.

Supporters painted Obama as an anti-war candidate, even though "he himself had never come out and said, 'I'm anti-war,'" Scahill told host Ahmed Shihab-Eldin.

The Death Of The Middle Class Is Being Sped Up By The Anemic Recovery

When the autopsy is written on the death of the middle class, the current lousy economic recovery will be a major contributing factor, according to a new report.

The job market's recovery from the Great Recession has been the slowest since World War II, and middle-income jobs lost during the recession are being replaced by low-wage McJobs. This adds to the widening gap between the rich and poor in this country, snuffing out a middle class that helped power the U.S. economic engine for much of the 20th century. And there's little relief in sight, according to the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast, a closely watched quarterly economic report

Mexican Americans Sterilized Disproportionately In California Institutions, Study Says

When a woman identified by the pseudonym of Minelva entered Pacific Colony, a California “home for the feebleminded,” she had suffered rape and a life of poverty, and spent much of her adolescence trying to escape from juvenile detention or state boarding homes. Viewing those experiences as symptoms of genetic and mental deficiency, Pacific Colony’s doctors diagnosed her as a sexually deviant “high moron.” They ordered her to be sterilized without her consent in October of 1936 at the age of 16, dismissing the pleas of her parents, who objected to the operation on religious grounds.

Congress Approval Poll Shows Only 6 Percent Rate Lawmakers Good Or Excellent

Just 6 percent of voters give Congress a positive job rating, according to polling released Wednesday.

One percent think Congress is doing an excellent job and 5 percent think it's doing a good job, a Rasmussen Reports survey found. Twenty-six percent rated Congress' performance as fair, and 64 percent said it's doing poorly.

Keystone XL ‘Anomalies' Prompt TransCanada To Repair Brand-New Pipeline

In what at least one expert is calling a “very unusual” move, TransCanada Corp. is reportedly digging up and rebuilding dozens of sections of the already-completed part of the Keystone XL pipeline.

According to multiple news reports, a 100-kilometre stretch of the pipeline running near the Sabine River in north Texas is being dug up in multiple spots just months after parts of the pipeline were originally put in the ground.

Most Overvalued Housing Markets: Canada 'Vulnerable To A Correction,' OECD Says

Canada has the third-most overvalued housing market in the developed world, the OECD says in a new report, and the latest market data released this week suggests that this is not changing.

The OECD’s latest global economic outlook estimates that Canada’s housing market is overvalued by 64 per cent when compared to rental rates, and by 30 per cent when compared to incomes.

That places Canada in a small group of countries “where houses appear overvalued but prices are still rising,” the OECD said.

Canada's oil output to more than double by 2030

Canada's oil production will more than double in the next two decades, rising from 3.2 million barrels per day last year to 6.7 million barrels per day by 2030, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers said in its annual forecast Wednesday.

The oilsands, which are located mainly in Alberta, will account for most of that increase — with production from those sources growing from 1.8 million barrels a day in 2012 to 5.2 million barrels a day by 2030.

Defence minister warns of divisive debate at upcoming Conservative convention

OTTAWA - Peter MacKay says he's getting a bad case of deja vu heading into this month's Conservative convention.

In an interview, the defence minister described his exasperation with a passionate debate on party leadership rules that turns up like clockwork at the party's conventions, which are held every two years.

"There's a bit of a refusal to accept the strong will of the party by bringing this forward time and time again," MacKay said in an interview from Brussels.

Sen. Wallin invoiced Boughen for one-fifth of her car rental while campaigning in Saskatchewan in last election, but invoiced no other Tory MPs in province

PARLIAMENT HILL—Senator Pamela Wallin charged Saskatchewan Conservative MP Ray Boughen for only one-fifth of $830.36 in car rental cost she incurred when she travelled to Moose Jaw, Sask., to campaign for Mr. Boughen’s re-election in 2011, according to his campaign expense return to Elections Canada.

Sen. Wallin, whose appearance in Moose Jaw created a controversy in the province because her visit involved a fundraiser for Mr. Boughen, invoiced no other Saskatchewan MPs for travel expenses, according to Elections Canada records, even though she told The Leader-Posta day later that the visit took place as she was “in Saskatchewan supporting our MPs who are seeking re-election.”

Dalton McGuinty staffers broke law by deleting gas plant emails

Senior staff members in the offices of both the Ontario energy minister and former premier Dalton McGuinty intentionally deleted emails about the cancellation of gas plants in Oakville and Mississauga, according to the province's privacy commissioner.

The finding, published in a special report Wednesday called Deleting Accountability: Records Management Practices of Political Staff, adds fuel to opposition accusations that Ontario's Liberal government was trying to cover up the cost of cancelling the controversial projects.

Canada needs up-to-date labour policy

Very few Members of Parliament know how it feels to live on the edge. Andrew Cash does.

The 50-year-old New Democrat, who represents Davenport, never had a permanent, full-time job until he was elected two years ago. As a singer-songwriter, he had no income between gigs, no employment insurance (EI) and no workplace benefits. He didn’t even dream of a pension.