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.]

Monday, December 29, 2014

Russia Entering 'Full-Fledged Economic Crisis,' Former Finance Minister Says

MOSCOW, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Russia's government has pushed the country into an economic crisis by not tackling its financial problems fast enough, former finance minister Alexei Kudrin said on Monday, warning the full effects would be felt next year.

Kudrin -- a darling of investors who is credited with building Russia's $170 billion worth of sovereign wealth funds -- added that sanctions over Ukraine, not falling oil prices, were primarily behind the collapse of the rouble and warned that Russia risked seeing its debt downgraded to junk status in 2015.

The War to Start All Wars

As we end another year of endless war in Washington, it might be the perfect time to reflect on the War That Started All Wars—or at least the war that started all of Washington’s post-Cold War wars: the invasion of Panama.

Twenty-five years ago this month, early on the morning of December 20, 1989, President George H.W. Bush launched Operation Just Cause, sending tens of thousands of troops and hundreds of aircraft into Panama to execute a warrant of arrest against its leader, Manuel Noriega, on charges of drug trafficking. Those troops quickly secured all important strategic installations, including the main airport in Panama City, various military bases, and ports. Noriega went into hiding before surrendering on January 3rd and was then officially extradited to the United States to stand trial. Soon after, most of the U.S. invaders withdrew from the country.

A Startling Admission By The Ferguson Prosecutor Could Restart The Case Against Darren Wilson

Ferguson prosecutor Bob McCulloch admitted that he presented evidence he knew to be false to the grand jury considering charges against Darren Wilson. In an interview with radio station KTRS on Friday, McCulloch said that he decided to present witnesses that were “clearly not telling the truth” to the grand jury. Specifically, McCulloch acknowledged he permitted a woman who “clearly wasn’t present when this occurred” to testify as an eyewitness to the grand jury for several hours. The woman, Sandra McElroy, testified that Michael Brown charged at Wilson “like a football player, head down,” supporting Wilson’s claim that he killed Brown in self-defense.

John Tory Focused On Modernizing City, Pushing Agenda Forward

Toronto Mayor John Tory is optimistic about what he'll be able to accomplish in his new job, but admits there are parts of life at city hall that have been "immensely frustrating."

Just a month into his new role, Tory has already presided over his first council meeting and picked the members who will serve alongside him on his executive committee.

He knows, however, that he still has much to learn, including about the people who surround him on council.

Why Is CRA Reinterpreting Rules to Shut Down Charities It Doesn't Agree With?

It's what charities have feared. The results are trickling in from the Harper government's program of stepped-up Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) audits of charities that tend to have different policy ideas than those of this government -- and it ain't pretty.

Sadly, the early results are in sync with the findings of my recent thesis, which triggered a national conversation about political interference by the Harper government in the workings of the taxman and causing an advocacy chill in charity communications. And that in turn impacts on Canada's public discussions and thus on the vigour of democracy itself.

South Korea Nuclear Plant Operator's Computers Hacked, But Officials Say No Risk To Safety Of Reactors

SEOUL (Reuters) - Computer systems at South Korea’s nuclear plant operator have been hacked, but only non-critical data has been lost and there is no risk to the safety of nuclear installations including the country's 23 atomic reactors, the company and the government said on Monday.

The attacks come amid concerns that North Korea may mount cyberattacks against industrial and social targets after accusations by the United States that Pyongyang was responsible for a devastating hacking assault on Sony Pictures.

South Korea is still technically at war with the North.

The Other Torture Report: The Secret CIA Document That Could Unravel The Case For Torture

WASHINGTON -- As the public grapples with the gruesome realities put forth in the Senate Intelligence Committee’s damning report on the CIA’s torture program, the agency has dug in to defend itself. The CIA claims the torture tactics it used in the years following 9/11 were legal and saved American lives. And despite what the Senate study alleges, the agency insists it never lied about the torture program.

One internal CIA document, though, could be key to discrediting this defense. And at this very moment, it’s tucked away in a Senate safe.

Changing Our Electoral System Would Renew Democracy

In his latest column discouraging the federal NDP from pursuing election reform, Bill Tieleman deeply misunderstands the importance of renewing democracy in Canada. Making votes count is not a side issue: it means empowering voters to elect governments that reflect how we voted and rebuild a democracy we can trust.

In the past four years, Canadians have become acutely aware of the consequences of a voting system which hands a single party100 per cent of the power to do what it wants, with only 39 per cent of the popular vote. For four years, we have seen the powerlessness of opposition parties representing more than 60 per cent of voters to influence anything.

Mair to Horgan: Your Pro-LNG Points Don't Wash

Dear B.C. New Democrat leader John Horgan,

The reader response to my last article criticizing your support of the Liberal government's LNG policy was substantial, and to be blunt, you didn't fare well.

Clearly, you and I don't agree on this one -- but more importantly, I don't think you understand the feelings of the people in B.C. who reacted so strongly to my column.

A Majority of Cop Killers Have Been White

As officials continue to investigate Saturday's tragic killing of two NYPD officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, details have surfaced about the suspect, 28 year old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, who allegedly shot a woman in Baltimore before traveling to New York. Anti-police posts he appears to have published on social media sites prior to the killings have lead many to connect his crime to protests that occurred in previous weeks, and some commenters have cast blame on officials including New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Attorney General Eric Holder, and President Obama, all of whom have condemned the violence. (Read my colleague Kevin Drum's response to that.) 

Banning Dissent in the Name of Civility

I had been invited to talk next April 3 at the University of Pennsylvania at a peace conference sponsored by the International Affairs Association, but last week after Truthdig published my column “ISIS—the New Israel” the lecture agency that set up the event received this email from Zachary Michael Belnavis, who is part of the student group:

We’re sorry to inform you that we don’t think that Chris Hedges would be a suitable fit for our upcoming peace conference. We’re saying this in light of a recent article he’s written in which he compares the organization ISIS to Israel (here’s the article in question). In light of this comparison we don’t believe he would be suitable to a co-existence speaker based on this stance he’s taken.

This prostitution law is about protecting votes, not women

It’s always fascinating when what looks like a political slam-dunk to one set of people ends up looking, to another set, like the clumsiest of blunders.

On Dec. 6, the Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act received royal assent. This event was noteworthy for two reasons: It meant that the prostitution laws overturned by the Supreme Court in the Bedford case had been replaced, and they’d been replaced on the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.

To Conservatives, this probably seemed like a pretty slick move. After all, they’ve been selling the new legislation as the best way to protect women who are abused and made vulnerable by prostitution. What could be a better symbol than making this bill into law on the very day Canadians have set aside to support an end to violence against women?

Government faces questions about anti-Muslim bias over Syrian refugees

The Conservative government is facing renewed questions about an alleged anti-Muslim bias following revelations it wants to cherry-pick which Syrian refugees will be accepted into Canada.

Sources say the government wants to prioritize religious minorities as a condition for resettling thousands more Syrian refugees in Canada over the next two years.

But the United Nations has resisted Canada’s request, as its policy is to help the most vulnerable, no matter their religious background. This includes families led by women, torture victims and those with serious medical conditions.

How to cook up a fiscal crisis for political gain

The most important fiscal action the Conservative government took after being elected in 2006 was to cut the GST by two points. At the time — and ever since — every credible economist in Canada said it was a bad, bad idea. With a general election less than a year away, now seems like a good time to run a ‘what-if’ scenario.

The Conservatives for years vowed that they would eliminate the deficit of $55.6 billion recorded in 2009-10 by 2015-16. And the government has been aggressively cutting government spending on programs and services since 2010. Despite recent declines in oil prices, the federal deficit will be eliminated in 2015-16 — possibly even a year earlier.

Stephen Harper government confuses science for mere opinion

The current government has repeatedly proclaimed its belief in the importance of scientific evidence.

In March 2013, then-Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver advanced the view that U.S. President Barack Obama is — on the Keystone XL issue, at least — “driven by facts,” adding “and that’s what drives us as well.”

He reiterated this assertion several months later in response to a blistering New York Times editorial that accused the Harper government of muzzling government scientists in an “attempt to guarantee public ignorance.” Americans, said Oliver, are entitled to their opinions but he would find it “refreshing if they confined themselves to the facts and science.”

Finance Department now a fact-free zone

Since Stephen Harper began governing Canada almost nine years ago, one of his goals has been to turn the federal government into a fact-free zone.

The scrapping of the long-form census. The muzzling of government scientists. The systematic elimination of independent voices like the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy. Harper simply cannot abide evidence-based advice that gets in the way of his partisan policies.

The Harper government is killing Access to Information — slowly

So that’s how you do it.

Since its introduction in 1983, both Liberal and Conservative governments — usually supported by federal bureaucrats — have slowly but surely frustrated the workings of Canada’s Access to Information system. But it’s the current Conservative government that finally got the whole access system in what could turn out to be a fatal chokehold.

It has taken time and planning to accomplish, but — as it has demonstrated with other files — the Harper government is prepared to play a long game if it’s confident the end result meets its objectives.

Ray Kelly: Bill De Blasio Ran 'Anti-Police Campaign'

Former New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had contributed to police officers turning against him by running an "anti-police campaign" for mayor in 2013.

Kelly appeared on ABC's "This Week" Sunday to discuss the killing of two NYPD officers. When asked by host George Stephanopoulos if it's fair for critics to partiallyblame de Blasio for the death of the two cops, Kelly said the mayor had set off a "firestorm" by raising concerns over his son's safety.

Saudi Oil Chief: No Conspiracy Behind Oil Prices

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Saudi Arabia's oil chief on Sunday dismissed allegations that his kingdom conspired to bring down oil prices in order to harm other countries and told a summit of Arab energy leaders that he was confident the market would stabilize.

The kingdom, which is dependent on oil revenues, is able to weather lower oil prices due to large reserves built up over the years. Non-OPEC member Russia and other nations like Iraq, Iran and Venezuela need prices substantially above present levels to meet budget goals and want to drive prices up.

Tunisia Votes In Historic Presidential Runoff

TUNIS, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Tunisians voted on Sunday in a presidential run-off election that completes the country's transition to full democracy nearly four years after an uprising which ousted autocrat Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali.

With a new progressive constitution and a full parliament elected in October, Tunisia is hailed as an example of democratic change for a region still struggling with the aftermath of the 2011 Arab Spring revolts.

Head of Police Union Declares War on Protesters After NYPD Cops ‘Assassinated’

Two NYPD officers were killed Saturday in what a tearful New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio described as “execution style” as they sat in a patrol car in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The man identified as the gunman, 28-year-old Ismaaiyl Brinsley, shot and killed himself after shooting officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos. The Guardian quoted NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, whose voice cracked with emotion during a news conference at Woodhull Medical Center, as saying that Brinsley had made “very anti-police” postings on the social media site Instagram.

Rudy Giuliani: 2 NYC Cops Were Killed Because Obama Told Everyone To ‘Hate The Police’

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani attributed the execution-style assassination of two police officers on Saturday afternoon to the protests that broke out across the city following a grand jury’s failure to indict a police officer for killing Eric Garner.
“We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” Giuliani said during an appearance on Fox News on Sunday. “The protests are being embraced, the protests are being encouraged. The protests, even the ones that don’t lead to violence, a lot of them lead to violence, all of them lead to a conclusion. The police are bad, the police are racist. That is completely wrong.”

How to Survive a Cop Coup: What Bill de Blasio Can Learn From Ecuador

In the United States, the mildest attempt to shift policy debate away from security to inequality (class and race) leads to a cop insurrection and, as Corey Robin put it, Weimer vibes—“and not the good kind.” Comparisons have been made to the cop revolt in 1992 against mayor David Dinkins, who tried to set up a civilian review board to assess police brutality. Thousands of police, led by Rudy Giuliani, swarmed City Hall and shut down the Brooklyn Bridge. As The New York Times reported, “Asked why the department did not take stronger action to control the protesters, Raymond W. Kelly, the Acting Police Commissioner, said the size and vehemence of the protest had caught police commanders by surprise.” Giuliani, denounced by Dinkins as a hooligan and an opportunist, rode the white resentment to make sure the city’s first black mayor only had one term.

Cree chief refuses to recognize contentious bill

EDMONTON - Friday’s legal win means the Mikisew Cree now consider Ottawa’s omnibus budget bills null and void, warned Chief Steve Courtoreille Saturday.

The wide-ranging bills, passed into law in June and December 2012, removed federal environmental oversight on most of the lakes, streams and rivers in the Mikisew Cree traditional territory in northeastern Alberta.

On Friday, Federal Court Justice Roger Hughes ruled the Harper Government erred when it failed to consult with the Mikisew Cree before introducing the changes to parliament since those changes will clearly affect their right to use their traditional territory.

Elizabeth Warren And The Independent Community Bankers of America Are Right: Antonio Weiss Should Not Become Undersecretary for Domestic Finance

Antonio Weiss has been nominated to become Undersecretary for Domestic Finance at the Treasury Department. A growing number of people and organizations have expressed reservations about this potential appointment, which requires Senate confirmation – including Senator Dick Durbin (D., IL), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D.,NH), Senator Joe Manchin (D., WV), the American Federation of Teachers (in a press release on December 17th), and other groups. And, from another part of the political spectrum, the Independent Community Bankers of America has also come out strongly against Mr. Weiss.

Finally, an End to Second Class Treatment for Native Court Workers?

B.C.'s government recently decided to ignore one of the most important recommendations of both the 2012 Oppal Inquiry into the missing women case and the 2006 Highway of Tears Symposium Recommendations report, which was sponsored by aboriginal groups in the North -- the creation of an affordable shuttle bus system on the Interior's Highway of Tears. It is a simple reform that would leave poor women, many aboriginal, less at risk from sexual predators when forced to hitchhike between the region's small settlements along Highway 16, where 18 women have been murdered or gone missing.

With this missed opportunity, chalk up one more sign this provincial government still has a long way to go before it can claim to be in any hurry to meet its responsibilities to B.C.'s First Nations.

Lawmaker Defends ‘Legitimate Rape’ Bill

A Missouri lawmaker who filed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to obtain notarized consent from the man who impregnated them defended the measure in an interview with 41 Action News on Thursday.
“It took two to come together and create a child, and right now the way it is the woman gets the full say and the father gets no say, and I think that that needs to change,” Brattin said. “With the women’s movement for equal rights, well it’s swung so far we have now taken away the man’s right and the say in their child’s life.” He added, “It’s a child’s life that’s taken. The woman’s life is not altered.”

NYPD Plainclothes Cop Appears To Punch Restrained Teen

A plainclothes NYPD officer appears to punch one of two teenagers during an arrest captured on video.

The video, uploaded to YouTube last Monday, shows three officers restraining the teenager. Suddenly, a plainclothes officer hurls himself onto the suspect, punching him twice in the back.

Investigators Said to Seek No Penalty for C.I.A.'s Computer Search

WASHINGTON — A panel investigating the Central Intelligence Agency’s search of a computer network used by staff members of the Senate Intelligence Committee who were looking into the C.I.A.’s use of torture will recommend against punishing anyone involved in the episode, according to current and former government officials.

The panel will make that recommendation after the five C.I.A. officials who were singled out by the agency’s inspector general this year for improperly ordering and carrying out the computer searches staunchly defended their actions, saying that they were lawful and in some cases done at the behest of John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director.

How Will Russia's Currency Crisis Affect Putin's Presidency?

As the value of the ruble continues to fluctuate, having lost about 50 percent of its value in the past year, Russians are stocking up imported goods for fear of price hikes.

In a HuffPost Live conversation, U.S. economist Gregory Daco discussed Russia’s currency crisis and suggested that the western-imposed sanctions and sliding oil prices contributed to the volatile economic climate.

Israel Airstrike Hits Hamas Site In Gaza

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel's military struck a Hamas site in the Gaza Strip early Saturday in its first airstrike on the Palestinian territory since this summer's war.

The Israeli military said the airstrike on what it called a "Hamas terror infrastructure site" in the southern Gaza Strip was in response to a rocket fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Friday. The rocket fire caused no injuries.

Palestinian residents reported hearing two explosions in the Khan Yunis region of Gaza, in an area that contains training sites for Palestinian militants. No injuries were immediately reported.

Cynicism and division are legacy of Tory rule, Trudeau says

OTTAWA—Almost nine years of Conservative rule have produced a legacy of “cynicism” and “division” that Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is vowing to overturn in the coming election battle.

Trudeau accused Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives of playing on the country’s religious, ethnic and geographical differences for political advantage.

“We know that careful application of these politics, of strategic vote-getting and wedge politics and division and negativity can actually lead to getting a majority government. Mr. Harper is proof of that,” Trudeau told the Star in an interview Friday.

Tory government using publicity agency to create, distribute news

OTTAWA—The Conservative government has been using a publicity agency to create and distribute government-approved news items to community newspapers, television and radio stations.

The federal government has a standing offer — worth up to $1.25 million annually — with News Canada Ltd., which provides content free and without copyright to editors through its website.

The articles must be credited to News Canada, but there is usually nothing in the so-called news articles or television and radio scripts that would explicitly let readers or viewers know it is sponsored content.

Danielle Smith defends floor crossing as 'a victory' for Wildrose Party

Danielle Smith is defending her decision to cross the floor to Alberta's Progressive Conservatives, calling it a "victory" for the Wildrose Party, in an interview on CBC Radio's The House.

Smith took a calculated risk, in a stunning move this week, when she defected to Jim Prentice's Progressive Conservatives taking with her eight members of the Wildrose Party.

"I look at it that we won. We took down two administrations — the [Ed] Stelmach administration and the [Alison] Redford administration — that were leading the province in the exact wrong direction," Smith told host Evan Solomon.

Harper's All-in Approach to Carbon Puts Our Economy in Danger

I filled up my car yesterday for fewer than $40. The last time it cost me so little was in 2008. In November, I was shelling out well over 60 bucks every time I pulled up to the pumps, and in the summer, even more. Canadians, especially Ontarians, are becoming accustomed to the volatility of fossil fuel markets. One month, your gas bill is astronomical; the next month, a steal. Contributing to the uncertainty in the market is the Harper Government's failure to regulate our oil and gas industry and its inability to do what it needs to do in order to get Canadian resources to market.

For someone with a Master's Degree in Economics, Mr. Harper seems to ignore one of the most important rules of investing: hedge your bets. Harper's all-in bet on the carbon economy means that when the price of oil goes for a tumble, so does our economy and with it, our petrodollar. CIBC's recent estimates show low oil prices could negatively impact our 2014 GDP by about $13 billion. Our economy shed just shy of 50,000 jobs in November alone. If this is what recovery looks like to the Harper Government, we should be seeking a second opinion.

The Treasury Secretary’s Misperceptions About Wealth

By Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s reckoning, being a millionaire does not constitute living high above the ranks of ordinary people. Lew said last week that back when he was in the private sector enjoying six- and seven-figure pay packages, “My own compensation was never in the stratosphere.”

Lew made that pronouncement as he sought to defend President Barack Obama’s embattled Treasury undersecretary nominee Antonio Weiss from charges that as a financial executive, he is out of touch with the interests of regular people. Lew was seeking to cast his own lot with the ranks of ordinary Americans at a time of growing economic inequality.

Food Prices Grow At Fastest Pace In 3 Years, As Meat Soars

Want to save on your food bill? Switch to chicken.

Inflation slowed down in November, thanks primarily to plummeting gas prices, but the rapid rise in meat prices that has stalked consumers this year showed no signs of slowing.

Overall inflation fell to a 2-per-cent pace in November, Statistics Canada reports, below the 2.4-per-cent pace a month earlier and below the 2.2 per cent forecast by economists.

The gas price index fell 7.5 per cent in the space of a month. Prices for clothing and entertainment equipment also fell.

How Preston Manning convinced Wildrose MLAs to join mass defection

A whirlwind three weeks of negotiations to set the terms for one of the most dramatic mass defections in Canadian political history ended in the Edmonton apartment of a Wildrose MLA on Tuesday night.

Pizza, pretzels and “beverages” were served as the “Wildrose Nine” — the collection of MLAs who crossed the floor on Wednesday to join Alberta’s long-governing Progressive Conservatives — held an emotional meeting with Premier Jim Prentice.

Mr. Prentice spelled out his plan to improve the Alberta government, everything from the pending oil bust, to the fiscal crisis, to a creeping culture of entitlement.

Scalia on Retirees Losing Their Health Insurance: 'I Can't Feel Bad About It'

In Apple Grove, West Virginia, there are some retirees from a chemical plant whose Christmas wishes probably include this: They want to keep the health insurance they were promised.

The United Steelworkers union negotiated a series of collective bargaining agreements stipulating that retired employees "will receive a full company contribution towards the cost of [health] benefits." The union believed the benefits were guaranteed for life. The company contends it could take away these benefits whenever it chose--which it did in 2007.

Americans Aren't Quite As Comfortable As Dick Cheney With The CIA's Wrongful Detentions

Most Americans agree with former Vice President Dick Cheney's sentiments on the CIA's post-9/11 detention program: "Bad guys who got out and released" and returned to the battlefield are more of a concern than "a few that, in fact, were innocent" and detained, Cheney said on "Meet the Press" Sunday after the Senate released a summary of a report detailing serious errors and abuses in the program.

But the high percentage of wrongfully detained prisoners -- at least 22 percent, according to the report -- gives many people pause, a new HuffPost/YouGov poll finds.

Pakistani Military Kills Dozens Of Militants In Retaliation For School Massacre

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan hanged two convicted militants Friday in the country's first executions in years, while warplanes and ground forces pounded insurgent hideouts in a northwest region bordering Afghanistan — part of a stepped-up response to the Taliban slaughter of scores of schoolchildren.

Unchastened by criticism from all corners of the globe, the Taliban threatened earlier Friday to kill more children if executions were carried out as promised.

"We can create a mourning situation at the homes of many army generals and politicians," spokesman Mohammad Khurassani said in a statement emailed to reporters.

Vladimir Putin Invites Kim Jong Un to Moscow

Amid U.S. and European sanctions that are driving Russia into the arms of its Asian neighbors, President Vladimir Putin has invited the North Korean leader to Moscow next year to mark the 70th anniversary of the Soviet defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.

The invitation may figure into the high-stakes geopolitical and economic game Russia has found itself in after the imposition of U.S. and European sanctions and other global changes that have destabilized the Russian economy.

Obama Takes A Swing At 'Tar Sands' And Keystone Pipeline

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama spent five minutes disparaging the potential benefits of the Keystone XL pipeline Friday.

He then kept it alive with five words.

At a wide-ranging year-end news conference Friday, Obama maintained his recent pattern of expressed skepticism about the project: He played down its job potential, said it wouldn't lower gas prices for Americans and, employing the language of pipeline opponents, said it would merely help Canadian "tar sands" companies export their product overseas.

Forget what you've heard: Here's why Danielle Smith will soon get her cabinet post

Don't worry, Danielle Smith will soon be deputy premier of Alberta or occupy a similarly influential post.
Likewise, Rob Anderson will be finance minister or something similar, if not by next week, as soon as Christmas and New Year are out of the way. Perhaps one or two of the other Wildrose Party defectors will join the cabinet of Premier Jim Prentice as well.
Nothing is absolutely certain, of course, especially when all the important business of Canada's"most ethical and transparent government" is conducted behind locked doors as far as possible from the prying eyes and ears of taxpaying citizens and smart aleck bloggers. Prentice certainly doesn't phone me up and tell me what his plans are.
Still, the man himself is already dropping hints, and when you think about it, this is the only future narrative that makes any sense.

Fed Delays Volcker Rule, Giving Wall Street Another Holiday Gift

WASHINGTON -- Christmas came early for Wall Street this year. The Federal Reserve on Thursday granted banks an extra year to comply with a key provision of the Volcker Rule, a move that gives financial lobbyists more time to kill the new regulation before it goes into effect.

The Volcker Rule is a key element of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial reform law that bans banks from engaging in proprietary trading -- speculative deals that are designed only to benefit the bank itself, rather than its clients. Thursday's move by the Fed gives banks an additional year to unwind investments in private equity firms, hedge funds and specialty securities projects. The central bank also said it plans to extend the deadline by another 12 months next year, which would give Wall Street a two-year reprieve through the 2016 presidential election.

Blaney Denies IRFAN-Canada Permission To Raise Legal Funds To Fight Terrorist Label

OTTAWA - An organization that was formally branded a terrorist group last spring has been denied permission by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney to raise money to fight the move.

The Canadian branch of the International Relief Fund for the Afflicted and Needy is asking the Federal Court of Canada to set aside Blaney's decision as unconstitutional and affirm its right to solicit funds to pay a lawyer.

Steve and Mansbridge, cozy together

Last night, Canada’s most overrated journalist and underrated politician, Peter Mansbridge, performed his Yuletide foot massage on Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

You came away knowing not much more than the fact that both men love their jobs. Good for them.

As usual, Harper had his way with a host referred to inside the grandiose and troubled zones of the CBC — where even Mr. Mansbridge has been quizzed by the brass — as the ‘Chief Correspondent’, or CC. That’s a very funny title.

Climate Change Could Cause 18 Percent Drop In Food Production By 2050, Study Says

ROME, Dec 18 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Global warming could cause an 18 percent drop in world food production by 2050, but investments in irrigation and infrastructure, and moving food output to different regions, could reduce the loss, a study published on Thursday said.

Globally, irrigation systems should be expanded by more than 25 percent to cope with changing rainfall patterns, the study published in the journal Environmental Research Letters said.

Wildrose To PC Floor Crossing Left Federal Conservatives Gobsmacked

OTTAWA - Federal Conservatives say they're gobsmacked over the political tectonic shifts in Alberta this week, but they don't have to reach too far into their own history to see parallels with the political pragmatism that's at play.

Wildrose Party Leader Danielle Smith crossed the floor this week with eight MLAs to join the majority Progressive Conservative government. Federal members of Parliament — many of whom supported Wildrose — were caught off guard by the move.

Watchdog Asks Prosecutors to Reopen Robocall Investigation

A government watchdog is demanding the Public Prosecution Service of Canada re-open the investigation into the 2011 robocall scandal following the prosecutor's decision to appeal for a stronger sentence against the only person charged in the scheme.

The prosecutor wants to send a message to would-be election tamperers with a stiffer sentence for Michael Sona, who was convicted in November for his involvement in organizing the 2011 scheme.

Apple 'failing to protect Chinese factory workers'

Filming on an iPhone 6 production line showed Apple's promises to protect workers were routinely broken.

It found standards on workers' hours, ID cards, dormitories, work meetings and juvenile workers were being breached at the Pegatron factories.

Apple said it strongly disagreed with the programme's conclusions.

Exhausted workers were filmed falling asleep on their 12-hour shifts at the Pegatron factories on the outskirts of Shanghai.

Scott Walker Ready To Call In National Guard To Respond To Dontre Hamilton Protests

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said he is fully ready to bring in the National Guard to deal with protesters if there is unrest after prosecutors decide whether to charge a white Milwaukee police officer in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton, a 31-year-old unarmed African-American man.

"We proactively worked to make sure the National Guard was reaching out," Walker told reporters Wednesday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "They've been having meetings with law enforcement here within the region just to make sure."

Elizabeth Warren: Obama Trade Deal Could Undermine Wall Street Reform

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday warned that a major trade deal being negotiated by the Obama administration could hamstring Wall Street reform efforts.

Warren raised the issue in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, which was also signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The correspondence highlighted a broadening rift between President Barack Obama and the progressive wing of the Democratic Party over economic policy, less than a week after Warren and Obama squared off over a budget deal that provided government subsidies for risky derivatives trading.

Tea Partiers Are Right: Jeb Is a RINO

So Jeb Bush might be running for president. The rest of the world must be howling with laughter.

Apparently, the American political establishment isn't just afraid of new ideas, it's afraid of new people. It wants things so much the same, it's seeking blood guarantees, like the old Euro aristocracies that sealed military alliances with marriages. It's pathetic, and if Bush-Clinton turns out to be the general election menu, it's going to make kleptocratic paradises like the Soviet Union or the PRC look like vibrant democracies in comparison.