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.]

Friday, October 24, 2014

Autopsy: St. Louis Officer Shot Vonderrit Myers From Behind

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An 18-year-old killed earlier this month by an off-duty St. Louis police officer was shot eight times, including six times from behind, said a forensic pathologist who performed an independent autopsy Thursday.

Dr. Cyril Wecht, who has investigated the deaths of John F. Kennedy, Elvis Presley and JonBenet Ramsey, conducted the autopsy at the request of Vonderrit Myers Jr.'s family and outlined the findings during a news conference at the funeral home that will handle Myers' burial. The family's attorneys said the autopsy suggests Myers was running away from the officer. Myers' parents attended the autopsy announcement but did not comment.

Why Spain's Poor Fear Goldman Sachs

Madrid, Oct 24 (Reuters) - Last year Madrid's city and regional governments sold almost 5,000 rent-controlled flats to private equity investors including Goldman Sachs and Blackstone. At the time, the tenants were told their rental conditions would remain the same.

But as old contracts expire, dozens of people have received demands for higher rent, been told their rents will increase dramatically, been threatened with eviction or moved out to escape the insecurity. Thousands of Spain's poor now depend for their homes on the generosity of private equity.

Jamila Bouzelmat is one of them.

5 Things About Slavery You Probably Didn't Learn In Social Studies: A Short Guide To 'The Half Has Never Been Told'

Edward Baptist's new book, "The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery And The Making Of American Capitalism", drew a lot of attention last month after the Economist said it was too hard on slave owners.
What you might not have taken away from the ensuing media storm is that "The Half Has Never Been Told" is quite a gripping read. Baptist weaves deftly between analysis of economic data and narrative prose to paint a picture of American slavery that is pretty different from what you may have learned in high school Social Studies class.

Ferguson Police Committed Human Rights Abuses During Michael Brown Protests, Amnesty International Claims

Oct 24 (Reuters) - Police in Ferguson, Missouri, committed human rights abuses as they sought to quell mostly peaceful protests that erupted after an officer killed an unarmed black teenager, an international human rights organization said in a report released on Friday.

The Amnesty International report said law enforcement officers should be investigated by U.S. authorities for the abuses, which occurred during weeks of racially charged protests that erupted after white Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed Michael Brown, 18, on Aug. 9.

Does Canada Have An Auto-Loan Bubble? Moody's Suggests Yes

A major international ratings agency sees irrational exuberance in Canada for auto loans, and that could mean trouble for Canadian banks and consumers.

In a report issued Thursday, Moody’s Investor Service reported the value of car loans in Canada quadrupled in the space of six years, to $64 billion last year, from $16.2 billion in 2007.

That’s an annual debt growth rate of 20 per cent, more than double the rate for mortgages, credit cards and lines of credit, Moody’s noted.

Tories Table Mammoth Budget Bill Loaded With Unrelated Items

OTTAWA - The Conservative government has introduced another mammoth omnibus budget bill that includes a grab-bag of measures, ranging from tax breaks for beekeepers to provisions banning cable companies from charging for paper bills.

Much of the 458-page bill involves the complicated implementation of tax changes and other budget measures, including revisions to the Investment Canada Act.

There are some tax breaks for families and students.

However, one section broadens the scope of the national DNA bank. Another tightens the rules around the temporary foreign workers system. Still another establishes a long-promised Arctic research station.

The world passed laws making war illegal. Why does Harper ignore that?

"All murderers are punished unless they kill in large numbers and to the sound of trumpets." -- Voltaire

War has always been destructive and tragic, ripping apart families, devastating communities, ruining farmers' fields, killing, and maiming. But between 1914 and 1918 it got much worse -- with industrial warfare.

During WWI, the power and efficiency of steel, mass production, the railway and airplanes created horrific battlegrounds characterized by heavy artillery, machine-gun nests, toxic gases and bombing. More than 16 million died.

Let's set the record straight: Tars sands = 'dirty oil'

Environmentalists on both side of the Atlantic are shocked at the news that the European Union is proposing to scrap a mandatory requirement to label tar sands crude as highly polluting.

On Oct. 7, EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard released the revised draft plan of the EU's Fuel Quality Directive (FQD) and stated, "It's no secret that our initial proposal could not go through due to resistance faced in some member states."

It's a triumph of five years of lobbying by both the tar sands industry and the Harper government, which has poured millions of taxpayer dollars into getting the EU to back off from labelling tar sands oil as "dirty oil" that is 22 per cent more greenhouse-gas intensive than conventional oil and contributes heavily to climate change. Such a label would thereby curtail the crude from being imported into Europe.

Of course, the tar sands industry and the business press are gloating.

Reflections on a violent day in Ottawa

I often find it hard to feel empathy for Prime Minister Stephen Harper. But when I saw the grim picture of him talking on the phone following the end of his confinement in the locked down House of Commons yesterday, I sensed in him a vulnerability he rarely exhibits. Harper, like his fellow MPs, Parliamentary staff, media, visitors and children in the downstairs daycare, had likely hunkered down behind locked doors, no doubt traumatized by uncertainty when an armed gunman entered the building. Because no one knew who the gunman was after, all were potential targets. For half a day, everyone on lockdown no doubt felt the fear, despair, sadness and fragile sense of mortality that people in Iraq and Syria have experienced daily for decades, an extra punch of which they will soon receive at the hands of Canadian CF-18 bombers.

Obama Promised a “World Without Nuclear Weapons,” But May Now Spend $3 Trillion on Weapons Upgrades

We are on the road in the historic city of Vienna, Austria, not far from the Czech Republic where President Obama gave a major address in 2009 that called for a nuclear-free world. His disarmament efforts were cited when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, but since then advocates say little progress has been made. A recent New York Times investigation found the United States is on pace to spend as much as $1 trillion over the next three decades to modernize its nuclear arsenal and facilities. This week, more than 150 countries at the United Nations signed a joint statement calling on nuclear powers to attend the third major conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons scheduled this December in Vienna. The United States has yet to attend one of the meetings. We are joined by Elena Sokova, executive director of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

Author: --

We didn’t lose our innocence. We never had it

After Wednesday’s events in Ottawa, I want to comment on one version or account (yes, the dread “narrative”) which was dominant in the reporting. It’s the “unprecedented chaos, lost our virginity/innocence, never gonna be the same, demise of Canada as a Peaceable Kingdom” rendering.

The Peaceable Kingdom isn’t even a Canadian phrase. It was used by U.S. Quakers in the 19th century. Literary critic Northrop Frye applied it here in the 1960s and it was popularized by Toronto historian and city councillor William Kilbourn. When I challenged him on its usage, he scoffed, “Don’t you recognize irony, man?” It was sarcastic, or at best an aspiration far from reality.

Glenn Greenwald Predicts Security Crackdown, More Canadian Secrecy

MONTREAL - Canadians should expect sweeping security and surveillance measures following attacks against the military in Quebec and Ottawa, says the man who helped expose wide-ranging government monitoring of citizens in the United States.

"I will be shocked if the events of this week don't result in far greater secrecy powers and far greater surveillance powers than existed previously," Glenn Greenwald told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

"I've seen it so many times where the fear and nationalism that get generated by these events render almost inevitable not just the enactment of legislation that was already pending but I'll bet new and wholly more extreme measures as well."

Michael Zehaf Bibeau Angry About No Passport, Had Drug Problems: Shelter Mates

OTTAWA - The man who killed a soldier at the National War Memorial was angry about failing to get a passport and struggled with drug addiction, say those who knew him at the men's shelters where he spent his final weeks.

Michael Zehaf Bibeau so angered some of the men at the Ottawa Mission because of his complaints about Canada that there was almost a fight in recent days, said Norman LeBlanc, a 60-year-old former truck driver who frequents the shelter.

"He went on for more than an hour about how much this country sucked and how he wanted to get out of here, and he was furious about the passport," LeBlanc said Thursday outside the mission.

Canada Needs to Watch Gov't in Wake of Attacks: Security Expert

A security expert says Canadians should be on guard when it comes to their own government after Wednesday's attack in Ottawa, which left a soldier and a gunman dead, two days after another assault with a car killed a soldier in Quebec.

Wednesday's attack came on a day when proposed legislation giving Canadian authorities new powers to track terrorists was expected to be tabled in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was not 20 minutes into his speech after Parliament reopened on Thursday morning before mentioning that organizations like the Canadian Security Intelligence Service will soon enjoy expanded powers, including surveillance.


TORONTO – In Quebec on Monday, two Canadian soldiers were hit by a car driven by Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old Canadian who, as The Globe and Mail reported, “converted to Islam recently and called himself Ahmad Rouleau.” One of the soldiers died, as did Couture-Rouleau when he was shot by police upon apprehension after allegedly brandishing a large knife. Police speculated that the incident was deliberate, alleging the driver waited for two hours before hitting the soldiers, one of whom was wearing a uniform. The incident took place in the parking lot of a shopping mall 30 miles southeast of Montreal, “a few kilometres from the Collège militaire royal de Saint-Jean, the military academy operated by the Department of National Defence.”

Child Support Clawback Prevents Dad from Helping His Kids

Roy McMurter said a British Columbia government policy is preventing him from contributing fully to the well-being of his two daughters.

"I feel like I'm not allowed to be a contributor to my own family," said McMurter, a 44-year-old from Victoria whose children live in Surrey with their mother. "Now we're both being marginalized as parents trying to help their kids."

McMurter and his ex-wife separated about five years ago. He has a truck-driving job hauling construction equipment and contributes $750 a month in child support.

Lawyers argue law to revoke Canadian citizenship is unconstitutional

The Federal Court of Canada has been asked to void Ottawa’s recent changes to the Citizenship Act and declare it unconstitutional to revoke the citizenship of Canadian-born and naturalized citizens.
A day after the terror-linked gun shooting in Ottawa, constitutional lawyers argued in court on Thursday that Parliament has no legislative power to remove citizenship from individuals involved in armed combat against Canada, treason, spying and terrorism – unless the citizenship was obtained by fraud.

Islamic State Earns $1 Million A Day In Black Market Oil Sales, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON (AP) — Islamic State militants are raking in money at a remarkable rate, earning about $1 million a day from black market oil sales alone, a Treasury Department official said Thursday.

David Cohen, who leads the department's effort to undermine the Islamic State's finances, said the extremists also get several million dollars a month from wealthy donors, extortion rackets and other criminal activities, such as robbing banks. In addition, he said the group has taken in at least $20 million in ransom payments this year from kidnappings.

Original Article

Google Quits ALEC, But Chevron, ExxonMobil and Shell Stay Put

When Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt recently called out the American Legislative Exchange Council for "literally lying" about climate change and his company announced it would not renew its ALEC membership, it was just one of the conservative business lobby group's latest -- and loudest -- setbacks.

Thanks to pressure from shareholders, unions and public interest organizations, more than 90 companies have severed ties with ALEC since 2012, according to the nonprofit Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), which tracks the secretive group's activities on its ALEC Exposed website. The list of deserters comprises a veritable Who's Who of U.S. business, including Amazon, Bank of America, Coca-Cola, General Electric, General Motors, IBM, Kraft, McDonald's, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart. And in the days following Schmidt's denunciation of ALEC for "making the world a much worse place," other Internet companies headed for the exits. Yahoo cancelled its membership, Facebook said it was unlikely it would renew next year, and Yelp divulged it was no longer a member.

Coal-Rich Poland Ready To Block EU Climate Deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — European Union leaders agreed early Friday to cut greenhouse gas emissions in the 28-nation bloc to at least 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

The deal was aimed at countering climate change and setting an example for the rest of the world ahead of key international climate negotiations next year.

Canada considers 'preventative detention' in wake of Ottawa attack

The Canadian government indicated on Thursday that it intends to speed up proposals to toughen the country’s anti-terror laws in the wake of the attack on parliament in Ottawa, including a measure that would allow “preventative detention”.

As the House of Commons opened to rapturous applause for the sergeant-at-arms, the ceremonial security chief who prevented further tragedy by apparently killing the perpetrator of Wednesday’s brazen assault, prime minister Stephen Harper indicated that his government was resolved to toughen the country’s security legislation.

How Mitch McConnell Is Bending Every Last Campaign Finance Rule

The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allowed corporate and union money to flow freely in American elections, rested on a critical assumption: that so-called outside groups would not corrupt the political system because they would be legally separated from the candidates. In his majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy acknowledged that without a fire wall between the candidates and outside groups making “independent expenditures,” deep-pocketed donors would come to have an undue influence over politicians. “By definition,” Kennedy wrote confidently, “an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate.”

In the wake of the ruling, however, candidates have been forging close bonds with the outside groups from which they are supposedly independent, but that are spending vast sums to put them in office. Often the sharing of consultants and ad makers means that any “fire wall” is merely symbolic. But there have been no consequences for these potential violations of federal law, because there’s been no enforcement of the law, thanks to partisan gridlock at the Federal Elections Commission (FEC).

Canada's billionaires: Did you hear about the Irvings?

In this review of Irving vs. Irving: Canada's Feuding Billionaires and the Stories they won't tell, Canada's third wealthiest family -- who have a monopoly on New Brunswick’s English-language print media and billions of dollars in offshore accounts -- is examined against the backdrop of their history and relationships and their newspaper operations. Read on!

To think about the media landscape in New Brunswick, and the economy and politics more generally, one must come to terms with the power of the Irving family.

Don't Overreact, Don't Degrade Our Democracy

The Oct. 22 attack on the Cenotaph and Parliament was as personal as a punch in the nose, and a direct attack on Canadian democracy. The challenge now is not to let Canadian democracy cooperate in its own demise.

On Sept. 11, 2001, a handful of fanatics paralyzed the greatest country in history. We have been living with the consequences ever since: the advanced nations have turned themselves into surveillance states, and innocent people have been handed over to torture (in the case of Maher Arar, outsourced to Syria, where our current troubles originate). Our old-fashioned anti-Semitism has transitioned into an equally shameful hatred of Muslims.

Scott Brown’s Big-Money Sellout

Name a major super-PAC or dark-money outfit and there's a good chance it has helped Republican Scott Brown, the former senator from Massachusetts now trying to oust Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire. Karl Rove's American Crossroads? Check. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity? Check. The US Chamber of Commerce, billionaire Joe Ricketts' Ending Spending, FreedomWorks for America, ex-Bush ambassador John Bolton's super-PAC—check, check, check, and check.

Despite being a darling of conservative deep-pocketed groups, Brown once was a foe of big-money machers. As a state legislator in Massachusetts, he sought to curb the influence of donors by stumping for so-called clean elections, in which candidates receive public funds for their campaigns and eschew round-the-clock fundraising. But during his three years in Washington—from his surprise special-election win in January 2010 to his defeat at the hands of Elizabeth Warren in November 2012—Brown transformed into an insider who embraced super-PACs, oligarch-donors such as the Koch brothers, and secret campaign spending. On the issue of money in politics, there is perhaps no Senate candidate this year who has flip-flopped as dramatically as Brown. Here's how it happened.

The Making of the Warrior Cop

BY 7:30 ON THURSDAY MORNING, the capacious ground-floor convention center of the Oakland Marriott was filled with SWAT teams. Mostly men, mostly white, dressed in camouflage or black fatigues, they stood in groups of eight or ten, some eating pastries, others sticking to coffee and a dip of tobacco. A few wandered the expo hall, stopping by booths to test the feel of armored vests, boot knives, and sniper rifles, grab swag like grenade-shaped stress balls, or drop tickets into a box for a raffle of iPhone covers and pistols.

"Want to see the new toy?" a vendor asked a police officer in camo. He handed him a pamphlet for his company, Shield Defense Systems. "This will blind anyone for 10 minutes. Imagine, walk into a bar fight, blind everyone, then figure out what's going on. Some guys on drugs, you can put three slugs in their chest and it won't stop them. But blind him, and I guarantee you he'll calm down." The device attached to a gun and sent out a frequency that the vendor said temporarily scrambled its target's ocular fluid. The vendor turned to me—conspicuous for my lack of fatigues—and insisted the device caused no permanent damage (hence the name Z-Ro, as in "zero damage"), though he said it would probably make you nauseous. He expected it to be on the market this coming January.

Is it too early to ask for a sane conversation about terrorism?

The sight of our Parliament buildings under attack is a horrifying one. Sadly, it’s likely to rally support for the Harper government’s decision to send warplanes to attack Islamic State in Iraq. It shouldn’t.

Yes, there’s a strong temptation now to ramp up our anger and vow that we won’t back down until Islamic State is obliterated. And that kind of anger is very satisfying — even if it is exactly the response IS militants are aiming for in their quest to stoke up a holy war against the West.

But it is both wrong and counter-productive for Canada to be joining the U.S.-led attack on Islamic State — a continuation of George W. Bush’s foolish and failed “war on terror” project and of decades of Western military interventions that have turned the region into a hotbed of hatred against the West.

These Two World Leaders Are Laughing While the Planet Burns Up

Canada once had a shot at being the world's leader on climate change. Back in 2002, our northern neighbors had ratified the Kyoto Protocol, the world's first treaty that required nations to cut their emissions or face penalties. In 2005, the country hosted an international climate change conference in Montreal, where then-Prime Minister Paul Martin singled out America for its indifference. "To the reticent nations, including the United States, I say this: There is such a thing as a global conscience," Martin said.

Australia, too, was briefly a success story. The government ratified Kyoto in 2007 and delivered on promises to pass a tax on carbon by 2011. The prime minister that year, Julia Gillard, noted her administration's priorities to set "Australia on the path to a high-skill, low-carbon future or [leave] our economy to decay into a rusting, industrial museum."

Today, the two countries are outliers again—for all the wrong reasons.

Economists Say We Should Tax The Rich At 90 Percent

America has been doing income taxes wrong for more than 50 years.

All Americans, including the rich, would be better off if top tax rates went back to Eisenhower-era levels when the top federal income tax rate was 91 percent, according to a new working paper by Fabian Kindermann from the University of Bonn and Dirk Krueger from the University of Pennsylvania.

Paul Krugman: How About A Clinton-Warren Ticket Instead Of A Matchup?

Nobel Prize-winning New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has an interesting vision of the 2016 Democratic presidential ticket: Hillary Clinton for president and Sen. Elizabeth Warren “looking over her shoulder so she doesn't stray too far."
Speaking on HuffPost Live Wednesday about Clinton’s domestic policy, Krugman said, “When she talks now, she sounds substantially to the left of the old Hillary Clinton.”
“If she becomes president and then turns ... [and] runs back to the right, that’s going to be a problem. ... I guess part of one's hope, if she becomes president, [is that] she will in fact feel some need to avoid alienating the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, which is for all practical purposes led by Elizabeth Warren right now,” Krugman said.
As for a presidential bid from the Democratic senator from Massachusetts, he said it “would be an interesting thing” but predicted it would be unsuccessful.
Warren has pushed back on rumors that she might go for the White House, telling ABC’s David Muir in April that she's "not running for president" but thinks "Hillary Clinton is terrific."
Watch the full interview here.
Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | By Amber Ferguson

Amid Shootings, Chicago Police Department Upholds Culture of Impunity

On a clear, warm April day in 2013, a 35-year-old father of two, Ortiz Glaze, was manning a grill in his South Chicago neighborhood. He was cooking seafood, chicken and potatoes for scores of guests, including kids, in a parking lot. The barbecue, which stretched from day to night, was to commemorate his friend who had recently died from a shooting.

A group of Chicago police officers pulled up to the party, some wearing plain clothes and arriving in unmarked cars.

What happened next is where the stories differ. Police officers say Glaze was holding a cup appearing to contain alcohol, was ignoring orders and was gesturing to his waistband where Officer Louis Garcia and his partner, Officer Jeffrey Jones, say they believed he stowed a gun.

Secretive, Deep-Pocketed Shadow Campaigns Pervade Midterms

Campaign-finance operations are mutating at a frightening pace; each successive election since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision has birthed new varieties of independent expenditure groups that deliver even more access for wealthy donors and corporations. This year, single-candidate expenditure groups are pervasive and represent perhaps the apex of this evolution.

Single-candidate expenditure groups are Super PACs or nonprofits that spend unlimited money to support just one candidate (or to attack only that candidate's opponents). They are a descendant of the candidate-specific groups like Priorities USA that formed to support just one candidate for president in 2012—but now most Congressional candidates in tight races have one at their side.

George W. Bush's Revenge: A Federal Appeals Court Goes on the Rampage

When George W. Bush departed the White House, he left behind a giant deficit and expanded government spending for Medicare drug benefits that caused conservatives to grumble. But he did make a mark that right-wingers can cheer—by shaping the federal courts for years, perhaps decades.
As Bush has retreated to painting, federal judges he placed on the bench have been implementing a conservative vision in some of the most contentious areas of federal law. The best example of this is a string of recent decisions on hot-button issues from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which the ABA Journal has dubbed"the nation's most divisive, controversial and conservative appeals court."

Gov't Still Open to Slots on Ferries Despite Dozens of Obstacles

The British Columbia government is still considering putting slot machines or other chances to gamble on BC Ferries, but has made little progress, Transportation Minister Todd Stone said.

"Nothing new to update other than to say discussions continue," said Stone, noting his ministry has been talking with BC Ferries, the BC Lotteries Corporation and the ministry of finance. "We're still working our way through all of the details of what that project could look like."

Anybody-but-Stephen Harper trend gains momentum

MONTREAL — A year out from the 2015 federal vote, Stephen Harper’s worst-case election scenario probably looks like the Ekos poll that Radio-Canada and the website iPolitics released on Sunday.

It would see the ruling Conservatives (26 per cent) pushed back to the Reform heartland of Western Canada next year while the Liberals (38 per cent) and, to a lesser degree, the NDP (25 per cent) take the lion’s share of seats in Central and Atlantic Canada.

Canadians Need to Take Their Country Back Before It’s Gone

A man and his economic dogma is quietly – and steadily – transforming Canada profoundly, perhaps beyond repair as well as recognition.

From glorifying past wars to ongoing assaults on parliament, the federal public service, science and the environment and from a thinly veiled war on the poor to endless gifting to the rich and the ultra-rich, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s tenure in office has largely been a route map to a nation where only the rich and the Right have any genuine claim to full human rights and citizenship.

Hong Kong Protesters March After Leader Says Democracy Gives Poor Too Much Power

HONG KONG -- Representatives from trade unions, women's groups and left-leaning political parties marched on the house of Hong Kong’s Chief Executive C.Y. Leung on Wednesday after he told media outlets that free elections would give poor people too much power.

On Tuesday, Hong Kong’s Chief Executive said in an interview that Hong Kong required a nominating committee to screen electoral candidates, claiming that if the city allowed the direct civil nomination demanded by democracy protesters, “you’d be talking to the half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month.”

The Intensity Gap

One afternoon in May, Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, took the Senate floor to ask for a vote on a provocatively named bill: the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would ban abortions after twenty weeks of gestation. “There are only seven countries in the world that allow elective abortions at this stage,” he said. “At twenty weeks, people have been born and survived.”

Barbara Boxer, a Democrat from California, offered a sharp rebuttal. The law would “drive more women to rogue doctors,” she said, and added a charge that is frequently aimed at Republicans these days: “It’s a war on women.” This was a spirited debate, though not a suspenseful one. Graham knew that Harry Reid, the Democratic majority leader, would not allow a vote on his bill. But he wanted to be seen trying to do something about abortion in America.

Republican Official Censors Student Newspaper Because It Covered A Democratic Senator’s Campaign

A Republican official in the county that includes Colorado State University reportedly threatened to confiscate copies of a student newspaper that were available in newspaper racks at the university’s student center because she claimed that they violate a state law prohibiting “electioneering . . . within one hundred feet of any building in which a polling location is located.” Larimer County Clerk and Recorder Angela Myers objected to the newspapers because of their front page coverage of Sen. Mark Udall’s (D-CO) visit to the university’s campus.

Climate campaigner disputes Province's claim that BC's LNG plants will be 'clean'

New  legislation ensures BC will have the world's cleanest liquefied natural gas facilities in the world, environment minister Mary Polak says, but Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner Eoin Madden disagrees.

“There’s no way the LNG industry in BC could be clean. Ever. We might as well still be using coal and burning coal," Madden says.

After pressure from Petronas, B.C. government sets LNG tax rate at 3.5%

Two weeks after Malaysian state-owned gas giant Petronas threatened to delay its $11 billion LNG project in B.C., British Columbia announced it is cutting its proposed tax rate by half.

According to draft legislation in February, the B.C. government intended to charge a tax rate starting at 1.5 per cent and 7 per cent on net income once LNG terminals recover capital costs.

But on October 6, Petronas CEO Shamsul Azhar Abbas warned that his company could delay its Pacific Northwest LNG project if the B.C. government could not come to an agreement with industry on ways to lower costs on the project by the month's end.

Kinder Morgan's Qs on Aboriginal food provokes avalanche of fish photos

Hundreds of aboriginal people -- who apparently really love fish -- took the bait of an impromptu viral social media campaign to submit their favourite fishing pictures, following a Vancouver Observer story last week that reported that pipeline-giant Kinder Morgan had questioned how much a B.C. band still eats fish.

The fish tale began Friday when Kinder Morgan's lawyer had grilled a Kwantlen First Nation band councillor at a National Energy Board hearing in Chilliwack.  The forum is gathering Aboriginal views on the proposed $5.4-billion Trans Mountain expansion pipeline.

“Do you have an estimate in terms of what proportion of Kwantlen members’ diet comes from sources in the Fraser River?” asked Kinder Morgan lawyer Terri-Lee Oleniuk.

Harper Doesn't Care About the Average Canadian Worker

It has been widely reported over the last few months that the Harper Conservatives want to attack the working conditions of public service workers by drastically weakening their sick leave provisions.

In true Conservative "divide and conquer" fashion, they hope that this will pit unionized public service workers against the larger group of non-unionized workers in the private sector, many of whom do not have paid sick leave provisions in their contracts. Indeed, the Conservatives, led by Treasury Board president Tony Clement, are making every effort to foment animosity between these sets of workers --mostly with false claims relating to cost and absenteeism rates -- rather than striving to improve working conditions for all Canadians and prioritizing public health.

Harper's political motives on terror case questioned

On a day when the House of Commons grieved the killing of a Canadian soldier by a possible terrorist, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own political motivations in handling the crisis also came to the fore.

In the Commons Tuesday, Harper told MPs that the government’s “thoughts and prayers” are with the family of Patrice Vincent, a 53-year-old warrant officer with the Canadian Armed Forces who died after being struck by a vehicle the previous day in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

One other soldier remains in hospital and the perpetrator of the attack, Martin Couture Rouleau, was shot by police after a car chase.

Jury Issues Guilty Verdicts For Blackwater Guards

WASHINGTON (AP) — Four former Blackwater security guards were convicted Wednesday in the 2007 shootings of more than 30 Iraqis in Baghdad, an incident that inflamed anti-American sentiment around the globe and was denounced by critics as an illustration of a war gone horribly wrong.

The men claimed self-defense, but federal prosecutors argued that they had shown "a grave indifference" to the carnage their actions would cause. All four were ordered immediately to jail.

Their lawyers are promising to file appeals. The judge did not immediately set a sentencing date.

Demonizing those Canada calls 'radicalized'

Scare headlines about young people becoming "radicalized," going overseas, being transformed into robotic Super Muslims, graduating from Beheading School, and being returned to Canada ready to strike at the heart of our values, freedoms, and traditions have filled the media in the past few months, leading to an upcoming Canadian campaign of bombing Iraq and repressive new legislation to be introduced this week in Parliament.
Given the Fourth Estate's role as stenographer to power, it is unsurprising that the many articles asking "why" young people are attracted to overseas adventures are all playing into the same "blame Islam" game that results in horrible "jihad" headlines, increased fear, and suspicion of anyone who does not look like the CBC's Peter Whitemansbridge.

Revenue agency gives right-wingers a pass while harassing progressives: new study

The Harper government's attack on "progressive" charities began as an effort to defend the Keystone XL pipeline proposal (and the oil sands, more generally).
In 2012, Joe Oliver, who was then Natural Resources Minister, wrote an open letter attacking environmental organizations opposed to the pipeline. He said they wanted to turn Canada into a "vast national park."
To nail home his point, the Minister added the accusation that some of those organizations were funded by foreign "billionaire socialists."

Republicans Trying to Woo, or at Least Suppress, Minority Vote

This weekend, the Supreme Court, by its customary 5-4 partisan split, issued an emergency ruling upholding Republican-authored voter-identification laws in Texas. The Texas law, like other legislation resembling it elsewhere, imposes disproportionate burdens on poor and nonwhite voters — or, as the Republicans hope, non-voters.

Meanwhile, in what feels like unrelated news, Republicans continue to rack their brains for ideas to increase their share of the minority vote. Whatever could they do to convince these nonwhite Americans that the Grand Old Party has their best interests at heart? Rand Paul and Chris Christie, reports the Daily Beast, recently appeared at a Republican confab on Fifth Avenue, where they jostled to position themselves as the Party’s true hope for diversification. Earlier this spring, Paul tentatively questioned his party’s obsession with rooting out almost entirely imaginary voter fraud, but almost immediately retracted his heresy. (“I agree, there’s nothing wrong with [voter I.D. laws]," he told Sean Hannity. “To see Eric Holder, you’ve got to show your drivers license to get in the building. So I don’t really object to having some rules for how we vote.”) Christie has opposed measures to make voting easier, like same-day registration and early voting. They have a two-track approach to the minority vote: make it as hard as possible for them to vote, while simultaneously persuading those who do vote to vote for them.

White House Chief Of Staff Negotiating Redaction Of CIA Torture Report

WASHINGTON -- White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is personally negotiating how much of the Senate's so-called torture report, a probe into the CIA’s post-9/11 detention and interrogation program, will be redacted, according to sources involved in the negotiations.

McDonough's leading role in the redaction discussion has raised eyebrows in the Senate, given that his position comes with a broad array of urgent responsibilities and that the Obama White House has a team of qualified national security advisers.

BC Halves Projected LNG Revenue

The British Columbia government has slashed in half the amount of revenue it expects to receive from a proposed liquefied natural gas industry since the February 2014 budget.

The BC Liberal government had previously promised LNG revenues would be used to create a prosperity fund that could be used to fund goals such as eliminating the provincial sales tax. Premier Christy Clark ran in the 2013 election with a "Debt Free B.C." slogan premised on building an LNG industry.

"The amounts of money are still significant," finance minister Michael de Jong told reporters in a briefing ahead of the bill's introduction in the legislature this afternoon. "If it takes an extra 10 or 15 years to pay down to the extent we'd like or eliminate the provincial debt... I'll take that criticism."

Pattern of Charity Audit Bias 'Disturbing' Says Free Speech Advocate

An organization dedicated to free expression is calling the actions of the Canada Revenue Agency "disturbing" after Tuesday's release of a study indicating right-leaning charities have been ignored by the government's move to audit charities.

The study was released by the left-leaning Broadbent Institute and shows of the all the charities audited by Canada's revenue department, right-wing charities seem to have evaded the CRA's radar.

The institute said the findings show the audits to ensure charities are not being used for political purpose are in fact political themselves.

Danger Adrift: Fed Panel Warned of Simushir Scenario in 2013

With an 135-metre Russian container ship now safely at port in Prince Rupert, a top environmental lawyer says that 19 months ago he warned the federal government precisely such an incident could occur to oil tankers on open waters off the West Coast.

The Simushir lost power in severe winds Friday and drifted within 14 kilometres of the rocky shores of Haida Gwaii carrying 500 tonnes of bunker fuel. The beleaguered vessel's captain was evacuated by helicopter after suffering a "cardiac event," a high-placed government source confirmed.

Even the head of one of the $6.5-billion Northern Gateway's most vocal backers, the B.C. Chamber of Commerce, expressed concern about the delayed response to the incident and questioned whether Canada's marine safety systems are adequate -- suggesting federal authorities displayed a "lack of concern" for its West Coast shipping traffic that must be addressed if oilsands pipelines are to proceed.