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.]

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The FBI Is Very Excited About This Machine That Can Scan Your DNA in 90 Minutes

Robert Schueren shook my hand firmly, handed me his business card, and flipped it over, revealing a short list of letters and numbers. "Here is my DNA profile." He smiled. "I have nothing to hide." I had come to meet Schueren, the CEO of IntegenX, at his company's headquarters in Pleasanton, California, to see its signature product: a machine the size of a large desktop printer that can unravel your genetic code in the time it takes to watch a movie.

Schueren grabbed a cotton swab and dropped it into a plastic cartridge. That's what, say, a police officer would use to wipe the inside of your cheek to collect a DNA sample after an arrest, he explained. Other bits of material with traces of DNA on them, like cigarette butts or fabric, could work too. He inserted the cartridge into the machine and pressed a green button on its touch screen: "It's that simple." Ninety minutes later, the RapidHIT 200 would generate a DNA profile, check it against a database, and report on whether it found a match.

After Fearmongering Kills the NSA Reform Bill, What’s Next?

For a few hours on Tuesday, the Islamic State looked like the best thing that ever happened to the National Security Agency. The USA Freedom Act, a modest bill seen as the best chance for reforming one of the NSA’s dragnet surveillance programs, failed to clear a procedural hurdle in the Senate by two votes after Republicans insisted that it would precipitate a terrorist attack.

“This is the worst possible time to be tying our hands behind our back,” Mitch McConnell said. “We live in a dangerous world, and the threat by ISIL only makes it more so.” Marco Rubio chimed in with his own warning: “God forbid that tomorrow we wake up to the news that a member of ISIL is in the United States,” he said. Former CIA director Michael Hayden penned a Wall Street Journal op-ed under the headline, “NSA Reform That Only ISIS Could Love.”

New Scrutiny of Goldman’s Ties to the New York Fed After a Leak

From his desk in Lower Manhattan, a banker at Goldman Sachs thumbed through confidential documents — courtesy of a source inside the United States government.

The banker came to Goldman through the so-called revolving door, the symbolic portal that connects financial regulators to Wall Street. He joined in July after spending seven years as a regulator at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the government’s front line in overseeing the financial industry. He received the confidential information, lawyers briefed on the matter suspect, from a former colleague who was still working at the New York Fed.

Police Arrest Protesters as St. Louis Awaits Grand Jury Decision

FERGUSON, Mo., Nov 20 (Reuters) - Police arrested about six people overnight after they tried to block a street in a protest calling for a grand jury to charge a white police officer over the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teen in August.

A few dozen demonstrators, some chanting "Indict that cop," gathered outside the city police station late on Wednesday in sub-freezing temperatures.

Spanish Parliament Calls For Recognition Of Palestinian State

MADRID, Nov 18 (Reuters) - Spanish lawmakers on Tuesday urged their government to recognize Palestine as a state, albeit only when the Palestinians and Israel negotiate a solution to their long-standing conflict.

The symbolic motion, which echoes similar votes last month in Britain and Ireland, was backed by all the political groupings in the lower house after the ruling People's Party (PP) watered down the wording hours after an attack in Jerusalem.

Hong Kong Activists Try To Storm Legislature

HONG KONG (AP) — Tensions spiked at democracy protests that have gripped Hong Kong for nearly two months as a small group of activists clashed with police while trying to break into the city's legislature early Wednesday.

Police arrested six people in the overnight clashes and warned of more arrests. The scuffling came hours after authorities enforced a court order to clear some barricades from a small section of a nearby site occupied by pro-democracy activists.

Misconceptions of Political Islam

As soon as the Tunisian elections results were announced with Nidaa Tounes overtaking Ennahdha party, celebrations of the "Islamists'" defeat at the hands of the "secularists" got underway across the media in France and many other western capitals. The historical context of a country in the aftermath of a revolution, its socio-political circumstances and complex regional conditions was banished from the narrative. Between cliches of bad "Islamists" "defeated" by good "secularists" and jubilant resurrections of old prophesies of the "failure of political Islam," the contest was portrayed as a battle of ideologies and world views.

Global corruption a bigger scourge than terrorism

While the G20 summit in Australia made headlines over global warming, economic growth and terrorism, much less attention was paid to the giant spectre of global corruption.

That is too bad as this is a problem that is arguably more dangerous to humanity than even terrorism because it siphons off an estimated $1 trillion from developing countries annually through bribery, money laundering, tax evasion, extortion and other financial crimes.

Is Dianne Feinstein Crafting a Secret Water Deal to Help Big Pistachio?

UPDATE: Sen. Dianne Feinstein has called off her backroom negotiations to push a California water bill through the current, lame-duck Congressional session, The Fresno Bee reported late Thursday afternoon. But she's not finished trying to make a deal with Big Ag-aligned GOP reps. She vowed to "put together a first-day bill for the next Congress, and it can go through the regular order,” the Bee reported.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) is negotiating a behind-closed-doors deal with Republican lawmakers to pass a bill that would ostensibly address California's drought—an effort that has uncorked a flood of criticism from environmental circles.

Can We Defend Our Pensions Without Challenging Financialized Capitalism?

Unrelenting employer attacks on workplace based pension plans are intensifying, and the struggle to defend them is becoming more challenging right across the country.

One recent development appears to be an important partial victory. Some 900 workers at Bombardier’s Thunder Bay production facility, represented by Unifor, launched an eight-week strike on July 14, and the dispute centred on an employer demand to eliminate the secure, “defined benefit” type pension plan with an individualized “defined contribution” savings scheme for all new hires. Bombardier’s proposal was hardly a new idea – private sector employers without unions have been unilaterally imposing just that for a number of years, and it’s the model that has sparked a series of important battles at unionized private sector employers such as Vale-Inco, Air Canada, the Big Three Automakers, U.S. Steel, and many others. Even highly profitable companies have been dumping or restructuring their pension commitments to workers – all workers where possible, new hires only if necessary.

'Jellified' lakes coming to Canada

Lakes in the Canadian Shield are slowly becoming “jellified,” a legacy of acid rain that changed the water chemistry and has made life easier for a tiny crustacean with a big jelly blob on its back.

In the granite hills of Algonquin Park and the Gatineaus, lakes are low in calcium to start with.

The acid rain years washed away much of the calcium in the lakes and surrounding soil, says biologist John Smol of Queen’s University.

Did The National Archives Give The CIA Permission To Destroy Evidence?

WASHINGTON -- In mid-January of this year, a small request was slipped quietly to the National Archives and Records Administration, the lord of the U.S. government’s record-keeping operations. One government agency’s method for storing documents was clogging up its system, and it just wanted permission to clear out some of its emails.

Major Networks Not Airing Obama's Immigration Speech

Despite the great significance of Barack Obama's planned executive action on immigration reform, the four major television broadcast networks are not planning to cover the president's Thursday night address where he is expected to announce his plan.

Anti-terror bill trades freedom for illusion of security

The potential destruction of terrorism is infinitesimally smaller than the damage done to our rights by a disproportionate attempt to prevent it.
Please. Please remember this. It's even more important now, when that fact is so easily forgotten in the wake of the attack on our Parliament and the tragic deaths of Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
We cannot allow the extreme actions of a few to strip us of the freedoms those soldiers worked so hard to protect. But the Canadian government continues to roll back our rights in the name of "security."

Income distribution and inequality: How the pie is sliced in B.C.

It's an interesting finding, and perhaps the start of a good trend: the share of income going to Canada's top 1 per cent has declined (Statscan releasehere, Globe story here). One great thing Statscan has done in recent years is to make its data freely available, so I went to dig deeper on national, B.C. and Vancouver trends (some more wonky notes on data are at the bottom).
What are some key takeaways?
B.C. and Canada have a remarkably similar income distribution, and that has persisted over time. It's surprising that a province so far away from the economic centre of Canada could mirror so well national trends, but there you go.

Conservative government to study privatization of some police services

OTTAWA—The Conservative government is examining the “opportunities and challenges” involved in privatizing some policing services in Canada.
Public Safety officials are commissioning a study to examine the growing industry of private policing in Canada and abroad, and to outline the role private security firms could play in traditional public policing roles.
The study appears to be primarily motivated by the cost of and increased pressure on public forces, despite historically low crime rates.

Public servants get new offer for sick-leave reform

The Conservative government has tabled a new contract offer that would give Canada’s public servants six paid sick days a year and let them claim some of the unused days they previously accumulated, before it eliminates the $5.2 billion sick-leave bank altogether in 2017.

The Public Service Alliance of Canada and Treasury Board are meeting this week for another round of contract talks in which government negotiators will present the new offer that has been quietly made to other unions over the past month. PSAC is the largest of the 17 unions, representing the majority of public servants in five large bargaining groups.

Israel To Cooperate With UN Chief's Gaza War Inquiry

JERUSALEM, Nov 20 (Reuters) - Israel said on Thursday it would cooperate with a United Nations investigation into Israeli attacks on U.N. facilities during last summer's Gaza war and the use of U.N. sites by Palestinian militants to store weapons.

Last week, Israel announced it would not cooperate with a separate U.N. Human Rights Council investigation into alleged war crimes committed during the July-August conflict, saying its findings were predetermined and accusing its chairman, Canadian academic William Schabas, of anti-Israeli bias.

Banking Brings Out Dishonesty In People, Study Finds

WASHINGTON -- The banking industry seems to bring out dishonesty in people, a new study suggests.

A team of Swiss economists tested the honesty of bank employees in a lab game that would pay off in cash if they cheated. When workers at an unnamed bank were asked about their home life, they were about as honest as the general public. But employees who had just been asked about work at the bank cheated 16 per cent more.

"Bank employees are not more dishonest than others,'' said Ernst Fehr of the University of Zurich, author of the study published Wednesday by the journal Nature. But he said when reminded of their job they become more dishonest, so something about the culture of banking "seems to make them more dishonest.''

Ebola Spreading Intensely In Sierra Leone As Death Toll Rises: WHO

GENEVA, Nov 19 (Reuters) - The toll in the Ebola epidemic has risen to 5,420 deaths out of 15,145 cases in eight countries, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday, with transmission of the deadly virus still "intense and widespread" in Sierra Leone.

The figures, through Nov. 16, represent a jump of 243 deaths and 732 cases since those issued last Friday, and cases continue to be under-reported, the WHO said in its latest update.

The 2014 G20 summit: What did it achieve?

Brisbane – Walking around Brisbane today after the G20 Leaders’ Summit, there is little physical evidence that the meeting ever took place.  The security barriers have gone, the banners taken down, and everyone is back at work after enjoying an extra public holiday.  But what about the decisions taken by the G20 leaders last weekend?  Will their impacts be just as transitory?
In the run up to the meeting, everyone from the OECD to the IMF to the Pope was calling for action on inequality.  The Australian hosts were incredibly reluctant to do this, or to even use the word ‘inequality’. The fact that the Summit communiqué issued at the end of the leaders’ deliberations mentioned inequality not once, but twice, represents a significant shift. It means that the G20 now has a mandate to deliver wealth to many and not just to an elite few - and that we can hold them accountable for this. 

Tories try to force NDP’s hand on CETA

After what appears to have been a Conservative attempt to force the NDP’s hand on support for the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and Europe, a report on the deal is headed back to the House agriculture committee after a flurry procedural tricks, hours of late night debate and a vote Wednesday night on whether the report should be amended to clearly recommend the trade agreement be “implemented as negotiated.”

Until now, the NDP have refused to take a position on the trade deal, insisting they want to wait until the full text of deal is tabled in the House and implementing legislation has been drafted. The Conservative amendment, though, forces the party to decide whether they support at least the agriculture part of the trade deal or not.

Enough Is Enough: The President's Latest Wall Street Nominee

I believe President Obama deserves deference in picking his team, and I've generally tried to give him that. But enough is enough.

Last Wednesday, President Obama announced his nomination of Antonio Weiss to serve as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department. This is a position that oversees Dodd-Frank implementation and a wide range of banking and economic policymaking issues, including consumer protection.

Wall Street Banks Manipulated Commodity Prices At Consumers' Expense, Senate Report Finds

WASHINGTON (AP) — Three big Wall Street banks that have owned commodities such as aluminum exposed themselves to risk and in some cases manipulated prices in a way that raised costs for consumers, a Senate investigation has found.

The heavy involvement of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Morgan Stanley in the business of storing and moving commodities like oil, aluminum, uranium and copper also gives them unfair trading advantages in financial markets, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.

No internal study on $550M job credit: Oliver

OTTAWA - The Harper government passed up conducting its own internal analysis on the job-creation potential of its $550-million small-business job credit, relying instead on numbers produced by an interest group, the finance minister revealed Wednesday.

Joe Oliver told the parliamentary finance committee that Ottawa's decision to introduce the measure was based on the research of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

"The department does not analyze every measure that we introduce," Oliver told the hearing as he responded to a question.

When a Bank Owns 100 Oil Tankers, It Can Mess With the Price of Gas

A two-year Senate investigation of the financial sector has found that banks can meddle with the economy in new and frightening ways.

The investigation was led by Carl Levin, D-Mich., and looked specifically at the impact of investments on the prices of certain commodities—things like oil and uranium.

$1.1B meant for veterans returned to federal treasury, critics say

Veterans groups are responding angrily to news that the federal department responsible for their care and benefits was unable to spend upwards of $1.1 billion of its budget over seven years.

The figures are contained in answers to written questions posed in Parliament by the opposition and come as the Conservative government tries to figure out how to implement a series of changes recommended by the House of Commons veterans committee.

Red Chris Mine Failure Would Eclipse Mount Polley Damage: Review

ISKUT, B.C. - The results of a third-party review into the design of a northwestern B.C. gold and copper mine says it has the potential to cause significantly more environmental damage than the recent collapse of the Mount Polley tailings pond.

Engineering firm Klohn Crippen Berger made 22 recommendations for the owner of the mine, Imperial Metals, to improve the tailings dam of the Red Chris mine, 500 kilometres north of Terrace.

The review found the design of the dam is feasible, but that there are issues that must be addressed.

Prison staff used inmates to run car wash, auto-repair service

Federal prison service staff misused public assets and committed a "serious breach of code of conduct" by setting up a car wash, oil change and vehicle repair enterprise using correctional facilities, supplies and inmate workers, an internal investigation has found.

According to a report on wrongdoing in the workplace from the Correctional Service of Canada, an investigation was launched after a whistleblower alleged a supervisor was abusing publicly funded resources, time and materials to wash and fix colleagues' cars.

Dear New York City's Uninsured: Screw You, Love Governor Cuomo

On the morning of November 28, the day after Thanksgiving, while Americans across the country line up for Black Friday deals, a queue of a different kind was scheduled to form in New York City. At 5 a.m., the doors of Manhattan's massive Javits Center were to open, not for a tech expo or sneaker convention but to provide free health care to thousands of uninsured patients, courtesy of the organization Remote Area Medical.

RAM was founded in 1985 to bring health care to the developing world, but its leadership realized just a few years into its existence that a lack of access has made large swaths of our country as "remote" as Haiti or Guyana in terms of the needs of the American people. Because of this, they now do over 80 percent of their work in the U.S., creating three-to-five-day pop-up clinics that offer medical, dental, and vision services at no cost to the patient.

Republican Push To Promote Women Stumbles As White Guys Sweep Committee Chairs

WASHINGTON -- Republicans, stung by perceptions that they are the party of old white men, have gone out of their way since the election to give more prominence to women in the party. That effort appeared to hit a stumbling block Wednesday, however, as the GOP filled all of the open committee chairmanships in the House of Representatives exclusively with white men.

Israel Approves New Settlements In East Jerusalem Following Attack

JERUSALEM, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Israel on Wednesday approved the construction of 78 new homes in two settlements on West Bank land annexed to Jerusalem, likely to aggravate Palestinian anger at a time when violence has flared, including a deadly attack on a synagogue.

Jerusalem's municipal planning committee authorized 50 new housing units in Har Homa and 28 in Ramot, a municipal spokeswoman said. Israel describes those two urban settlements as Jerusalem neighborhoods.

Most Americans Support Keystone XL Pipeline

A bill to force authorization of the Keystone XL pipeline failed in the Senate on Tuesday, but most Americans support the proposal, according to a HuffPost/YouGov poll taken before that vote.

A 56 percent majority of Americans support building the pipeline to transport oil from Canada through the United States to oil refineries in Texas. Eighty-three percent of Republicans, 53 percent of independents and 40 percent of Democrats are in favor of it.

Should We Impeach Chief Justice John Roberts?

Republicans like to talk about impeaching President Obama, but there is a far more deserving candidate for impeachment—Chief Justice John Roberts of the Supreme Court. While the Republicans in Congress have blocked Democrats from enacting much of substance, the GOP majority in control of the Court has been effectively legislating on its own, following an agenda neatly aligned with their conservative party. Step by step, the five right-wing justices are transforming the terms of the American political system—including the Constitution.

Why Scott Walker Might Be Our Next President

In 2012, I basically considered Mitt Romney a shoo-in for the Republican nomination. I figured that he'd hoover up most of the moderate votes—and despite all the breathless press accounts, moderates still account for at least half of GOP voters—plus a share of the tea partiers, and that was that. The rest of the field would destroy each other as they fought over their own sliver of the tea party vote, eventually leaving Romney battered and unloved, but triumphant.

Alberta Income Inequality Is Worse Than In The U.S.

In Alberta, the rich keep getting richer, but where does that leave the rest of us?

StatsCan’s new survey of top income taxfilers shows Alberta leads the country when it comes to unequal income. In fact, Alberta is the only province in Canada where the top 10 per cent of the population take home more than half the income. In 2012, StatsCan's numbers show Alberta's top 10 per cent of earners took home 50.4 per cent of all income.

Kinder Morgan’s pipeline expansion won't bring "fair share" of revenues to B.C.: open letter

November 19, 2014
Dear Premier Clark,

Your government is an Intervenor in the National Energy Board Section 52 public  interest review. The hearing is to determine if Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain Expansion Project is worthy of a public license to construct and operate a twin pipeline. The system will transport more than 890,000 barrels a day of primarily diluted bitumen to BC’s west coast.

Judge Issues Sweeping Gag Order Silencing Alleged Victims Of A Notorious Coal Baron

Last week, the former CEO of an energy company that oversaw a mining explosion in West Virginia that killed 29 miners in 2010 was indicted on four federal charges related to an FBI investigation into that explosion. The charges against Don Blankenship, the former chief executive of Massey Energy, include “[c]onspiracy to violate mandatory federal mine safety and health standards,” and “[c]onspiracy to impede federal mine safety officials.” If convicted, Blankenship faces a maximum sentence of 31 years in prison.

Fracking To Be Allowed In Parts Of George Washington National Forest

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — Environmentalists and energy boosters alike welcomed a federal compromise announced Tuesday that will allow fracking in the largest national forest in the eastern United States, but make most of its woods off-limits to drilling.

The decision was highly anticipated because about half of the George Washington National Forest sits atop the Marcellus shale formation, a vast underground deposit of natural gas that runs from upstate New York to West Virginia and yields more than $10 billion in gas a year.

NSA Reform Blocked by Paranoid Republican Senators

“God forbid we wake up tomorrow and [Islamic State] is in the United States,” Sen. Marco Rubio said as the USA Freedom Act, considered a “gift to terrorists” by critics, was rejected by the U.S. Senate on Tuesday. Despite the fact that the mass collection of Americans’ phone data that the bill attempted to restrict has likely not prevented a single terrorist attack, somehow terrorism is still being used as a justification for the National Security Agency’s violation of U.S. citizens’ privacy rights.

Antonin Scalia's Son Now Works For Snoopy

When Democrats in Congress tried to fix the financial system in 2010, one of their main goals was to end the plague of giant financial institutions that had attained too-big-to-fail status—gargantuan banks and non-banks (say, insurance companies) that could one day collapse and, consequently, sink the entire economy unless they received a government bailout. The Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform legislation that Congress passed compelled financial regulators to identify these companies and called for extra rules for these behemoths to minimize the risk of implosion.

Monsanto Is Using Big Data to Take Over the World

You probably know Monsanto as the world's leading producer of genetically engineered seeds—a global agribusiness giant whose critics accuse it of everything from boosting our reliance on pesticides to driving Indian farmers to suicide.

But that's actually just the latest in a long series of evolving corporate identities. When the company was founded in 1901 by a St. Louis pharmacist, its initial product was artificial sweetener. Over the next few decades Monsanto expanded into industrial chemicals, releasing its first agricultural herbicide, 2,4-D, in 1945. In the '50s it produced laundry detergent, the infamous insecticide DDT, and chemical components for nuclear bombs. In the '60s it churned out Agent Orange for the Vietnam War. In the '70s it became one of the largest producers of LED lights.

Elizabeth Warren to Banks: Prove You Can Protect Customer Data From Hackers

Elizabeth Warren is off to a running start in her new leadership role with the Senate Democratic caucus. She called out Walmart for its terrible labor practices. She wrote an op-ed this week warning the president against appointing Wall Street insiders to the Federal Reserve. And Tuesday morning, she called on financial institutions to prove that they can protect customer data from cybercriminals.

Over the past year, cyber attackers have stolen roughly 500 million records from financial institutions, according to federal law enforcement officials. In a joint letter also signed by Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), Warren asked 16 firms—including Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Morgan Stanley—for detailed information about cyberattacks they experienced over the past year and how they plan to prevent future breaches.

Putin: U.S. Will Never 'Subdue' Russia

MOSCOW, Nov 18 (Reuters) - The United States wants to subdue Moscow, but will never succeed, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.

"They do not want to humiliate us, they want to subdue us, solve their problems at our expense," Putin said at the end of a four-hour meeting with his core support group, the People's Front.

"No one in history ever managed to achieve this with Russia, and no one ever will," he said, triggering a wave of applause.

Putin's tough talk reflected the strain in ties between Moscow and Washington, who are at loggerheads over the crisis in Ukraine, where the West has accused Russia of promoting and arming a separatist rebellion.

During the meeting, Putin repeatedly urged Russian firms, including in the agricultural and defense sectors, to boost their sales on domestic markets following tit-for-tat sanctions with West triggered by the row over Ukraine.

Putin fielded a range of questions during the event, on everything from the sales of blood glucose meters to housing problems, with the Russian leader stressing his determination to improve the economy which is straining under the sanctions. (Reporting by Denis Dyomkin, writing by Gabriela Baczynska, Editing by Thomas Grove and Crispian Balmer)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

Ontario Liberals To Cut $500M In Education Funding, Close Schools: NDP

TORONTO - Some schools in Ontario will be shut down as the Liberal government makes education funding cuts to help eliminate a $12.5-billion deficit in three years, Education Minister Liz Sandals admitted Tuesday.

The planned cuts are included in the government's 2015-16 education funding guide, which was obtained by the New Democrats and calls for permanent savings of up to $500 million by 2017-18.

"Lets face it," Sandals told reporters. "We do have a deficit, so we're going to have to look at every government program and make sure that we're managing it efficiently."

Tories seek to mend fences with veterans

OTTAWA - Veterans Affairs is embarking Wednesday on an effort to rebuild bridges with groups that represent disgruntled ex-soldiers, but it is excluding some organizations that have threatened to campaign against the governing Conservatives.

It will be the first time in months that embattled Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino has faced the regular gathering of interested groups.

The meeting is taking place in Quebec City — not Ottawa, as per usual — at a time when several Conservative sources are acknowledging their party's problematic relationship with Canadian military veterans.

Nine out of ten members of committee drafting sexual harassment rules are men

After two weeks of reports, first-person testimonials and Starbucks-line commiseration over what an old boys club Parliament Hill is in the wake of allegations against two Liberal MPs, the thorny task of drafting new rules for dealing with sexual harassment is headed for a committee whose members are 90 per cent male.

The lone woman on the 10-member procedure and House affairs committee is 30-year old Alexandrine Latendresse, NDP MP for the Quebec City area riding of Louis Saint Laurent. An environmentalist and teacher, Latendresse was swept into office in the 2011 Orange Wave and serves as vice-chair of the committee.

Tories' New Harassment Policy To Keep Process Behind Closed Doors

OTTAWA — The Conservatives have announced an interim policy to deal with harassment-type complaints for their own MPs and staff that keeps the process firmly behind closed doors and under the control of the party’s leadership, The Huffington Post Canada has learned.

In an email addressed to caucus colleagues late Tuesday afternoon, Conservative Party Whip John Duncan said recent allegations of personal misconduct, against two — now suspended — male Liberal MPs by two unidentified female MPs, had highlighted the problems that can arise when responding to "events in a politicized atmosphere without clear written procedures in place."

TransCanada hires controversial PR firm to derail opposition to Energy East pipeline

There are now multiple news articles that report Calgary-based TransCanada hired the controversial public relations firm Edelman in an attempt to derail growing public opposition to its proposed 1.1 million barrels per day Energy East tar sands pipeline. The PR firm began working for TransCanada in February and submitted detailed proposals to them in May and August.
Among the various tactics to be undertaken, Edelman proposed in their Promote, Respond, Pressure document to "prepare a research profile of key opposition groups by examining public records (including financial disclosures, legal databases and legislative records), traditional media sources (news databases such as Lexis-Nexis and Factiva) and social media (Facebook, Twitter and other relevant sites). ...We will begin with the Council of Canadians. Other possibilities include Equiterre, the David Suzuki Foundation, Avaaz and Ecology Ottawa." The overall plan was to "add layers of difficulty for our opponents, distracting them from their mission and causing them to redirect their resources."

Hockey millionaires and pharmacare tell you all you need to know about who the CTF really works for

For a while now it's seemed as if the so-called Canadian Taxpayers Federation has been adopting the modus operandi of the Fraser Institute -- cherry-picked data, conclusions contrary to the evidence presented and dubious claims stated as facts in a frenetic stream of press releases.
Well, you can hardly blame them. The media treats each of the purported "taxpayer watchdog's" pronouncements with a solemnity once reserved for texts thought to have been chipped into stone tablets by the Almighty.

Mike Beebe Defends Plan To Pardon Son For Drug Charge

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe is defending his plans to pardon his son for a 2003 marijuana conviction, saying he's receiving the same type of second chance hundreds of other nonviolent offenders have had.

Beebe appeared Tuesday on his monthly call-in show on the Arkansas Educational Television Network. He said he's not going to treat his son any better or any worse than others who have sought pardons during his administration.

Beebe last week said his next round of intended pardons, due in December, would include one for his son Kyle, who was convicted in 2003 of felony marijuana possession with intent to deliver.

Beebe, a Democrat, is leaving office in January due to term limits. He's being succeeded by Republican Gov.-elect Asa Hutchinson.

Original Article
Author: AP

What’s the Matter with West Virginia?

Cartoon corporate villains don’t come more cartoonish than Don Blankenship, a former coal baron of West Virginia. Last week, Blankenship, the former chief executive officer of Massey Energy, was charged in a federal indictment for a variety of crimes in connection with a disaster at the Upper Big Branch mine in April, 2010, in which twenty-nine coal workers were killed. According to the forty-three-page indictment, Blankenship engaged in a lengthy pattern of deception in dealings with federal mine regulators, in an effort to cut costs, and, consequently, exposed his employees to appalling risks. (His lawyer, William Taylor III, told reporters that Blankenship was innocent and would fight the charges.)