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.]

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Afghanistan: The Making of a Narco State

Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan is named for the wide river that runs through its provincial capital, Lashkar Gah, a low-slung city of shrubby roundabouts and glass-fronted market blocks. When I visited in April, there was an expectant atmosphere, like that of a whaling town waiting for the big ships to come in. In the bazaars, the shops were filled with dry goods, farming machinery and motorcycles. The teahouses, where a man could spend the night on the carpet for the price of his dinner, were packed with migrant laborers, or nishtgar, drawn from across the southern provinces, some coming from as far afield as Iran and Pakistan. The schools were empty; in war-torn districts, police and Taliban alike had put aside their arms. It was harvest time.

Black Lives Matter: 11 Racist Police Killings With No Justice Served

Protesters have filled streets across the country in the last two weeks to speak out against two outrageous failures of justice. First, in Ferguson, Missouri, a grand jury declined to indict the police officer who shot unarmed 18-year-old Michael Brown to death this summer and left his body in the street for four hours. Then, adding insult to injury, another grand jury in Staten Island, New York, chose to look the other way and return no indictment of the police officer who choked unarmed father of six Eric Garner to death, on camera, using an illegal chokehold as Garner pleaded, "I can't breathe!"

The Secret Deal to Save the Planet

A week after Democrats took a drubbing in the midterm elections, as pundits were suggesting President Obama should start packing up the Oval Office, he stood beside Chinese President Xi Jinping in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing and announced a historic climate deal that may be one of the most significant accomplishments of his presidency. In the works for nearly a year, the agreement unfolded in a series of secret meetings in the United States and China and was carried out with the brinkmanship and bravado of a Vegas poker game.

The agreement comes at a time when awareness of the risks of climate change has never been higher, thanks to the sobering accretion of extreme weather events around the world. But the prospects for significant action to reduce carbon pollution have never been lower. Which is why virtually everyone in the climate world was stunned when the agreement was announced on November 12th.

The Police in America Are Becoming Illegitimate

Nobody's willing to say it yet. But after Ferguson, and especially after the Eric Garner case that exploded in New York yesterday after yet another non-indictment following a minority death-in-custody, the police suddenly have a legitimacy problem in this country.

Law-enforcement resources are now distributed so unevenly, and justice is being administered with such brazen inconsistency, that people everywhere are going to start questioning the basic political authority of law enforcement. And they're mostly going to be right to do it, and when they do, it's going to create problems that will make the post-Ferguson unrest seem minor.

The Best Lawyers Money Can Buy

The United States Supreme Court decides cases involving the nation’s most pressing legal issues, affecting the daily lives of hundreds of millions of Americans — and yet so much about its functioning is shrouded in mystique and exclusivity. The court’s front doors are locked and its vast “public” plaza is off-limits to protesters. Alone among the branches of government, it refuses to televise its proceedings, even though its gallery can seat only 250 members of the public.

As a new report by Reuters shows, this exclusivity extends even to the types of cases the court agrees to hear.

Ukraine Suspends Train Service To Crimea

]KIEV, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Ukraine is suspending all train and bus services to Crimea due to a "deteriorating" security situation on the Black Sea peninsula which was annexed by Russia in March, Ukrainian transport chiefs said on Friday.

Although controlled by Moscow, Crimea's only land link is with Ukraine and it has remained dependent on the Ukrainian mainland for most of its supplies, including much of its electricity and water.

The suspension of bus and train links effectively creates a Ukrainian transport blockade to and from the region, as Ukraine has already banned sea and air traffic with the territory, which is still serviced by Russian airlines.

Russia's Economy Headed For Even More Trouble

MOSCOW, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Slumping oil prices have put Russia's economy on course for a sharp recession and double-digit inflation next year, government ministers said on Friday, as authorities scaled up a bailout for the first bank to succumb to this month's rouble crisis.

The economy is slowing sharply as Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis deter foreign investment and spur capital flight, and as a slump in oil prices severely reduces Russia's export revenues and pummels the rouble.

The government has taken steps to support key banks and address the deepening currency crisis in the past week, including a sharp and unexpected interest rate hike, but analysts are pessimistic on the outlook for both the economy and the rouble.

NSA Releases Internal Reports of Abuse and Negligence

The National Security Agency took advantage of the holiday lull in press coverage and released 12 years of internal oversight reports documenting abusive and improper practices by agency employees, The Intercept reports.

“The heavily redacted reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board found that NSA employees repeatedly engaged in unauthorized surveillance of communications by American citizens, failed to follow legal guidelines regarding the retention of private information, and shared data with unauthorized recipients,” Murtaza Hussain writes:
While the NSA has come under public pressure for openness since high-profile revelations by whistleblower Edward Snowden, the release of the heavily redacted internal reports at1:30PM on Christmas Eve demonstrates limits to the agency’s attempts to demonstrate transparency. Releasing bad news right before a holiday weekend, often called a “Christmas Eve surprise,”  is a common tactic for trying to minimize press coverage.
The reports, released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request submitted by the American Civil Liberties Union, offer few revelations, but contain accounts of internal behavior embarrassing to the agency. In one instance an NSA employee “searched her spouse’s personal telephone directory without his knowledge to obtain names and telephone numbers for targeting”, a practice which previous reports have indicated was common enough to warrant the name “LOVEINT”.
… Even in their redacted form the reports give insight into the level of power individual agency employees have in ordering surveillance, and the intentional and unintentional abuses that can take place in an environment of minimal oversight. Though NSA officials have repeatedly suggested that the agency has rigorous safeguards in place to prevent individual employees from abusing their powers of surveillance, the agency’s own confidential internal reporting appears to contradict this.
Original Article
Author:  Alexander Reed Kelly.

Alberta doctor tells U.S.: Canada is ‘lying’ about tar sands’ health effects

A northern Alberta doctor warned U.S. Senators on what he says have been the devastating health impacts of the tar sands on families – effects, he says, that have been willfully “ignored” by the Canadian and Alberta governments.

“I appeal to you to keep up the pressure – this is an ongoing tragedy.  A total disgrace,” said Dr. John O’Connor, Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

He sighted statistics for rare cancers – of the bile duct for example – that have shot up 400 times for what is considered normal for a tiny community, such as Fort Chipewyan – which is downstream, to the north of the oil sands.

Russian Roulette: Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for Trillions in Oil Derivatives

The sudden dramatic collapse in the price of oil appears to be an act of geopolitical warfare against Russia. The result could be trillions of dollars in oil derivative losses; and depositors and taxpayers could be liable, following repeal of key portions of the Dodd-Frank Act signed into law on December 16th.

On December 11th, Senator Elizabeth Warren charged Citigroup with “holding government funding hostage to ram through its government bailout provision.” At issue was a section in the omnibus budget bill repealing the Lincoln Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, which protected depositor funds by requiring the largest banks to push out a portion of their derivatives business into non-FDIC-insured subsidiaries.

One in Five Young Adults Lives in Poverty

The U.S. Census Bureau shows “the generation that has been dismissed as entitled and whiny is struggling with higher levels of poverty than their counterparts did in 1980,” when one in seven 18-to-34-year-olds lived in poverty, The Guardian reports.

Unemployment is a major factor:
Today, 65% of young adults are employed, down from 69% in 1980. The prior generation was also more likely to find themselves serving in the army: about 9% of the 18-to-34-year-olds were veterans in the 1980; today that number is just 2%.
The bureau’s survey also confirmed that more young people are going to college. Twenty-two percent of young adults have a college degree today, compared with just 16 percent of their 1980s counterparts.
Their expensive degrees – since 1978 the price of college has rocketed up 1,120%– unfortunately do not guarantee employment, not even in their chosen fields. The underemployment rate for 2013 college graduates was 18.3%, up from 9.9% in 2007.
As millennials struggle with student loans and finding jobs within their preferred professions, they are putting off some of the other milestones of adulthood, such as marriage: only three in 10 millennials have ever been married. In the 1980s, people ages 18 to 34 were getting married at twice that rate.
Original Article
Author: Alexander Reed Kelly.

Christmas Eve Document Dump Reveals US Spy Agencies Broke The Law And Violated Privacy

Around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve, the National Security Agency released hundreds of pages of heavily-redacted reports detailing numerous instances over the past decade in which agents intentionally or unintentionally violated the law and improperly collected private data. The revelations, triggered by a Freedom of Information Act request from the American Civil Liberties Union, still fail to disclose how many violations occurred and how many were unlawful.

What Does It Mean to Be Anti-Police?

In the wake of the horrific killing of two NYPD officers, police union officials and their political allies have worked to isolate and vilify police accountability and racial justice activists. By claiming that the shooter was motivated by the protests they argue both that the protests should be suppressed and that there is no space for public criticism of the police. Both of these are profoundly troubling claims.

So far the policing of the protests in New York and many parts of the country have been tolerant and flexible and have helped to maintain the overall nonviolent character of the protests. The notable exceptions being Ferguson and Berkeley, where in both cases dissent was pre-emptively suppressed in a way that directly contributed to the outbreak of violence and property destruction.

Ukip councillor: immigration ‘overload’ has made UK racist

The Ukip leadership has moved to distance the party from remarks by one of its councillors claiming an “overload” of immigrants had turned Britain into a racist country.

Trevor Shonk, who represents Ukip on Kent county council and Ramsgate town council, blamed Labour and the Conservatives for allowing in more immigrants than the country could cope with.

“The two main parties that have been running this country have made the country racist because of the influx that we have had,” he told BBC Radio 4’s The World at One.

Putin Signs New Russian Military Doctrine

MOSCOW, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a new military doctrine, the Kremlin said in a statement on Friday.

The new military doctrine says the main external risks for the country are the expansion of NATO's military capabilities and destabilization in several regions, RIA news agency reported.

The doctrine also says the main internal risks are activities to destabilize the situation in the country and the activities of terrorists, it added. (Reporting by Polina Devitt; Editing by Alexander Winning)

Original Article
Author: Reuters

Mikisew Cree Say Court Ruling On Environmental Law Consultation A Victory

EDMONTON - A judge says the federal government should have consulted with an Alberta First Nation before making significant changes to environmental laws.

The Mikisew Cree challenged the changes that affect water and fisheries laws that were part of two Conservative omnibus budget bills passed in 2012.

In his ruling last Friday, Federal Court Judge Roger Hughes says the Crown failed to consult with the Mikisew before each bill was introduced in Parliament.

Russia Offers Support To North Korea Amid Sony Hack

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Thursday offered sympathy to North Korea amid the Sony hacking scandal, saying the movie that sparked the dispute was so scandalous that Pyongyang's anger was "quite understandable."

Washington failed to offer any proof to back its claims of Pyongyang's involvement in the hacking, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing, adding that the U.S. threats of retaliation were "counterproductive."

A pretty good year for progress

You have to be careful about declaring progress in history. Think of poor Hegel. In 1806 the matchless German philosopher was in the streets of Jena when the emperor Napoleon rode by. “I have seen the world spirit on horseback,” he wrote. He meant that after millennia of lurching around, human history had come to its senses and reached its pinnacle — embodied in a leader who personified the spirit of the French Revolution: liberty, equality, solidarity. Above all: freedom. Our species had finally achieved its potential.
So how’d that work out for him and the rest of us?

Jeb Bush eases out of some businesses, such as firm helped by Obamacare

When Jeb Bush completed two terms as governor of Florida in 2007, he reported his net worth at $1.3 million, about $700,000 less than when he took office.

Today, nearly eight years later, he is a wealthier man. He has plunged into business and entrepreneurial ventures involving consulting, the paid lecture circuit and energy development. He has developed real estate, advised international investment banks and joined high-paying corporate boards.

The Gap Between the Rich and the Rest of Us Is The Widest It's Been In 30 Years. Here's One Reason Why.

The wealth gap between the richest 20 percent of Americans and everyone else is the widest it's been in three decades, according to a report released last week by the Pew Research Center. Many factors contribute to this great divide: tax rates on the rich have been falling for decades; the Great Recession decimated the assets of a lot of low- and middle-income folks; and technology is replacing workers. One often-overlooked  factor, though, is that 16.7 million poor Americans don't have a bank account. Lack of access to this basic financial tool cramps poor Americans' ability to prove credit-worthiness and build assets, and forces them to rely on expensive alternative financial services, trapping them in a cycle of debt and instability.

Ontario's corporate job-creation subsidies may not create jobs, economists warn

On a Friday morning in December, 2013, Kathleen Wynne arrived at Cisco Canada’s Bay Street offices with an early Christmas gift.

The Ontario government would give the technology giant $220-million. In exchange, Cisco – which posted $7.9-billion in profits last year – would hire up to 1,700 more people in the province.

“My vision for Ontario is that it’s a place where government makes smart, forward-looking investments,” the beaming Premier told assembled reporters. “This is the largest job-creating investment that we’ve seen in our technology sector.”

Russia Offers Support To North Korea Amid Sony Hack

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia on Thursday offered sympathy to North Korea amid the Sony hacking scandal, saying the movie that sparked the dispute was so scandalous that Pyongyang's anger was "quite understandable."

Washington failed to offer any proof to back its claims of Pyongyang's involvement in the hacking, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said at a briefing, adding that the U.S. threats of retaliation were "counterproductive."

Support for Harper’s environmental record increasing, poll shows

The number of Canadians who believe the Conservative government is doing a good job of protecting the environment is inching upward, according to a recent poll – despite the federal government finding itself repeatedly under fire on environmental issues, and Canada remaining on track to fall substantially short of its Copenhagen greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets.

The poll also comes two weeks after Prime Minister Stephen Harper said it would be “crazy” to limit oil and gas emissions, as his government first promised to do in 2006, at the current oil price. The poll also comes at a time when environmental concerns continue to underpin opposition to major pipeline projects across Canada, and after Canada criticized for inaction at a climate conference in Lima this month.

Ottawa hiking citizenship fees for second time in a year

Starting Jan. 1, Ottawa will raise the citizenship application fee — the second time in less than a year — to $530 per adult, making Canadian citizenship further out of reach for many of marginalized communities.

In February, Citizenship and Immigration Canada already increased the fee from $100 to $300 in order to recover its administrative costs. The upcoming raise means it will now cost applicants five times the money for their citizenship applications within a year. Successful candidates must also pay another $100 rights of citizenship fee to become citizens.

The Factory Workers Behind Your iPhone Are Too Tired To Eat, Report Says

WASHINGTON -- A U.S.-based labor watchdog group says it has uncovered disturbing working conditions inside a Chinese factory producing parts for our favorite electronic gadgets.

According to a new report from the Institute for Global Labour and Human Rights, workers at the Zhen Ding Technology Holding factory in Shenzhen, China, are pressured into working 65-hour weeks, made to sleep on plywood beds in bleak dormitories and harassed by the facility’s security force. The work is so exhausting that some of the estimated 15,000 workers choose to sleep through their lunch breaks instead of eating, the report states.

290 Heritage Sites Damaged By War In Syria

BEIRUT, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Satellite imagery indicate that 290 cultural heritage sites in Syria, whose history stretches back to the dawn of civilization, have been damaged by its ongoing civil war, the United Nations' training and research arm (UNITAR) said on Tuesday.

Syria's heritage spans the great empires of the Middle East but cultural sites and buildings around the country, such as Aleppo's Umayyad Mosque, have been looted, damaged or destroyed in the three-year-old conflict.

CDC Monitoring Tech For Possible Ebola Exposure

ATLANTA (AP) — A laboratory technician at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was being monitored Wednesday for possible accidental exposure to the Ebola virus that came during an experiment, officials said.

The person working in a secure laboratory in Atlanta may have come into contact with a small amount of a live virus, CDC spokeswoman Barbara Reynolds said in an emailed statement. The experimental material was on a sealed plate, but wasn't supposed to be moved into the lab in which the technician was working, Reynolds said. The worker will be monitored for 21 days and the person's name hasn't been released.

Russia Blames NATO For Ukraine Dropping Nonaligned Status

MOSCOW (AP) — NATO members pushed Ukraine toward dropping its nonaligned status, Russia claimed Wednesday, and also criticized the alliance for expanding its military presence near Russian borders.

Ukraine's parliament abandoned the nonaligned position Tuesday, possibly paving the way for a bid to join NATO, in defiance of Russia's protests.

Stop Blaming Protests for Police Killings

Shock, horror, grief: that’s the gamut of emotions most New Yorkers felt when they heard how Ismaaiyl Brinsley, a troubled, itinerant 28-year-old most recently from Georgia, had come to our city to fire four bullets into the police car occupied by officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, killing both on December 20. And that’s what most leaders expressed as well, including Mayor Bill de Blasio, who conveyed his condolences to the bereaved families and called the murders an “attack on all of us.” Gwen Carr, who lost her son Eric Garner after a New York City policeman put him in a chokehold last July, said, “We are going in peace, and anyone who’s standing with us, we want you to not use Eric Garner’s name for violence, because we are not about that.”


Advocates for police reform are warning that a shooting in Scarborough last week bears troubling similarities to the kind of violent encounters with mentally distressed people that the force has vowed to stamp out.

Last Thursday, police were dispatched to a Walmart at Kennedy and Sheppard after receiving a call that there was a man outside the back of the store armed with a knife. A witness who made the call told police the man was cutting his own arms and throat.

Officers arrived on the scene and according to the Special Investigations Unit, which investigates incidents of serious injury and alleged sexual assault involving the police, "there was an interaction between the police and the man resulting in the man being shot." The 40-year-old was taken to hospital in critical but stable condition, but has since been upgraded to stable. Authorities have not released his name because his family hasn't given their consent, but Walmart has confirmed he is an employee.

Israel Strikes Gaza After Palestinian Sniper Fire

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel deployed tank fire and an airstrike on targets in Gaza after its troops came under attack by Palestinian snipers as they were on patrol on the Israeli side of the border, the military said Wednesday.

The Islamic militant group Hamas that rules Gaza said one of its gunmen was killed. It did not immediately comment on the sniper fire.

The Israeli military said one of its soldiers, a member of a Bedouin unit, had been seriously injured.

Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day war this summer. Gaza militants fired a rocket at Israel on Friday prompting an Israeli airstrike in retaliation the next day for the first time since that war.

"This attack, the second of this week, is a lethal violation of the relative quiet along the Gaza border and is a blatant breach of Israel's sovereignty," Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman said. He said the military "will not hesitate" to respond to any attempt to harm Israeli soldiers.

Original Article
Author: AP

Police Fatally Shoot Black Teen Near Ferguson

At 11:15 p.m. last night, a white male officer, a six year veteran on the force, shot and killed an African American 18-year-old outside a gas station in Berkeley, Missouri—just a few miles from Ferguson—while responding to a call about a robbery. Police are still withholding the name of the young man, saying they would do so when all of his family members have been notified, but he’s been identified in the media as Antonio Martin.

Information czar probing whether gov't is avoiding providing digital data

The federal information commissioner is investigating multiple cases where it appears that government departments aren’t releasing data in easy-to-read formats, even though the law requires it.

The ongoing investigations, which are prompted by complaints from requesters, comes as the federal minister who oversees the access-to-information regime suggested some data couldn’t be released in easy-to-read formats, such as spreadsheets, over fears people may post “corrupt” information.

Why We Can’t Get the Government We Want and Deserve

Some believe the central political issue of our era is the size of the government. They’re wrong. The central issue is whom the government is for.

Consider the new spending bill Congress and the President agreed to a few weeks ago.

It’s not especially large by historic standards. Under the $1.1 trillion measure, government spending doesn’t rise as a percent of the total economy. In fact, if the economy grows as expected, government spending will actually shrink over the next year.

Obama Just Blew A Chance to Crack Down on Coal

On Friday, the Obama administration quietly passed up an opportunity to make the coal industry clean up its act.

The EPA issued a final rule on the disposal of coal ash, a byproduct of coal burning that contains toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, lead, and selenium. Up until now, disposal of coal ash hasn't been regulated by the federal government at all. Now it will be regulated, but not very strongly.

Amanda Lang Blasts 'Haters' Amid Criticism Of Speaking Gigs

CBC News correspondent Amanda Langhas continued to do paid speaking engagements for companies that "lobby or otherwise influence public policy" after the broadcaster introduced a guideline that banned its journalists from doing so.

And in the middle of criticisms of the gigs, she blasted the "haters" on Twitter.

New Year, New Rules for Internet Downloaders

The longstanding debate over how Internet providers should respond to allegations of copyright infringement by their subscribers was resolved in Canada several years ago with the adoption of a ''notice and notice'' system. Unlike countries that require content takedowns without court oversight or even contemplate cutting off subscriber Internet access, the Canadian approach, which has operated informally for over a decade but will kick in as the law in 2015, seeks to balance the interests of copyright holders, the privacy rights of Internet users, and the legal obligations of Internet providers.

The result is a system that has proven effective in raising public awareness about copyright, while safeguarding the identities of Internet subscribers, providing legal certainty to Internet providers, and leaving potential legal actions to the courts.

'To Protest Is A First Amendment Right': New Yorkers Defy Mayor's Request To Pause Demonstrations

NEW YORK -- Hundreds of protesters gathered in New York City Tuesday evening, showing they don’t plan to halt demonstrations, despite Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call to suspend their actions until the two NYPD officers killed over the weekend have been laid to rest.

About 300 demonstrators clogged city streets after gathering at 59th Street and Fifth Avenue, proceeding as they'd planned weeks earlier. Followed by a trail of cops, they marched uptown toward Harlem, holding signs that expressed condolences to the families of the slain officers, Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos, while openly criticizing de Blasio's request to pause protests.

A Brief Military History of Israel and a Prediction for the Future

For more than a half-century, since the United Nations partitioned the British Mandated state of Palestine so as to create a National Home for the Jewish People, in part of what had until the First World War been a part of the Ottoman Empire, the land of Palestine has been dominated by the Zionist founders of what became Israel.

Nearly all the Arab states in 1947-48 fought the partition as an act of aggression, but were brilliantly and conclusively defeated by the improvised military defenders of the new Zionist state. By that victory, Israel seemingly established its permanent place not only in what formerly had been Palestine but within the whole of the Middle East, supported by the United States. This position of permanence seemed guaranteed by America’s support and that of the vast majority of the Western European nations. The Israelis were soon to confirm it themselves with their military triumphs over renewed Arab efforts to expel the Israeli settlers by wars in 1956, 1967, and 1973-74.

Off Duty Black Officers In New York Say They Fear Fellow Cops

(Reuters) - From the dingy donut shops of Manhattan to the cloistered police watering holes in Brooklyn, a number of black NYPD officers say they have experienced the same racial profiling that cost Eric Garner his life.

Garner, a 43-year-old black man suspected of illegally peddling loose cigarettes, died in July after a white officer put him in a chokehold. His death, and that of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, has sparked a slew of nationwide protests against police tactics. On Saturday, those tensions escalated after a black gunman, who wrote of avenging the black deaths on social media, shot dead two New York policemen.

RCMP and prosecutors must disclose details about why they did not prosecute Nigel Wright for his payment to Senator Mike Duffy, as B.C. prosecutor did in similar situation

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on the RCMP officials and prosecutors who decided not to charge and prosecute Nigel Wright for his payment of more than $90,000 to Senator Mike Duffy to provide a detailed written explanation of their decision, as a B.C. prosecutor did in the Dobell case in 2008 (To see the explanation in B.C. case, click here (PDF document).

More than 31,000 Canadians have signed an online petition calling for a public explanation whenever prosecutors decide not to prosecute someone involved in the Senate spending scandal, as well as for fully independent prosecutors to oversee the investigations to ensure decisions are made based on the facts and the law and no other considerations.

Officer Juventino Castro Will Walk Free After Killing Unarmed Man Jordan Baker

A Texas grand jury has officially cleared an officer of any wrongdoing after he fatally shot an unarmed man back in January.

Officer Juventino Castro will face no charges in the deadly shooting of 26-year-old Jordan Baker, Chron News reports.

Baker was shot by Castro in an alley behind a Houston strip mall. Castro was off duty at the time, and Baker was unarmed. Castro said he believed Baker matched the description of a robbery suspect who had targeted the strip mall in the past, ABC13 reported at the time.

Marjorie Cohn on Drone Warfare: Illegal, Immoral and Ineffective

In this anthology edited by Marjorie Cohn - law professor, Truthout contributor and human rights authority - the clarity of the case against drones used for assassinations is persuasively made. Get this book now, with an introduction by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
Law professor, writer and social critic Marjorie Cohn explores human rights and US foreign policy, and the frequent contradiction between the two in her monthly Truthout column, "Human Rights and Global Wrongs." She agreed to an interview with Leslie Thatcher recently about her new book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

The New Face of US Health Care: $1,000 per Pill

For all of the outrage about the $1,000 a day cost for Sovaldi, the new hepatitis C pill marketed by Gilead Sciences, why hasn't anyone been arguing that federal law mandates that it be made available to the public at a reasonable price? If it is not, according to the 1980 revision of US patent law known as the Bayh-Dole Act, the government can use its "march-in" rights and insist that the drug be licensed to other manufacturers that will make the drug more widely available.

Why Is No One Talking About the NYPD Shooter’s Other Target?

New York City’s police commissioner is laying blame for the Saturday shooting of two of the city’s police officers at the feet of protesters participating in #BlackLivesMatter actions. Patrick Lynch, the head of the police union, claimed there’s “blood on the hands” of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who, Lynch has said, didn’t do enough to disavow and put an end to local protests.

None of this is surprising, unfortunately. The tragic killing of two officers by an emotionally and psychologically unstable shooter is being used to further the political goals of an establishment that’s been challenged through effective, largely nonviolent protest. Despite that movement’s focus on the criminal justice system as a whole, from policing to the role of district attorneys and the grand jury system, police leadership and rank and file are using this moment to claim victim status, ramping up rhetoric and participating in symbolic moves such as officers and union leaders turning their backs on de Blasio during a public appearance over the weekend.

A Canadian City Once Eliminated Poverty And Nearly Everyone Forgot About It

On a December afternoon, Frances Amy Richardson took a break from her quilting class to reflect on a groundbreaking experiment she took part in 40 years earlier.

“Well, that was quite a few years ago,” she said. “There was a lot of people that really benefitted from it.”

Between 1974 and 1979, residents of a small Manitoba city were selected to be subjects in a project that ensured basic annual incomes for everyone. For five years, monthly cheques were delivered to the poorest residents of Dauphin, Man. – no strings attached.

BC's LNG Strategy Is Not Climate Friendly

World leaders gathered in Lima, Peru, this month for global climate change talks. British Columbia's Environment Minister Mary Polak was among them. She shared the province's successful experience in implementing commendable climate policies, like B.C.'s carbon tax -- a policy that the president of the World Bank hailed as a "powerful example" of carbon pricing.

However, Minister Polak also included the province's liquefied natural gas export aspirations as part of B.C.'s climate success story, arguing that LNG will displace coal in Asia. Unfortunately, the evidence doesn't support this claim.

MH370 was 'shot down by US military', claims former French airline boss

A former French airline CEO Marc Dugain claims that the US may have shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 and then covered it up, adding to a rash of conflicting theories about the missing plane.

In a six-page article published by French weekly Paris Match, Dugain claims that the Boeing 777 may have got into trouble and as it was approaching the US military base on the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, it was shot down. US forces may have feared the plane was attempting a 9/11 style attack on the base, Dugain said.

Judge Takes Away Minimum Wage Protections From Home Care Workers

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon struck down a rule change issued by the Department of Labor that would have extended minimum wage and overtime pay protections to home care workers come January.
In 1974, the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) — the law requires American employers to pay their workers at least the minimum wage and extra pay for overtime hours — was expanded to cover domestic workers. Yet a carve-out was included for those who provide “care and fellowship” to the elderly and disabled in their homes. That exemption became so broadly interpreted as to deny basic labor rights from those who feed, clothe, and bathe clients, as well as give them medical care. In 2007, under that law, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman named Evelyn Coke’s employer, who had her work long hours giving care, did nothing illegal by failing to give her overtime pay.

How Our 1989 Invasion of Panama Explains the Current US Foreign Policy Mess

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 US invaders withdrew from the country.

Minimum Income: What You Should Know About The Idea That Could Revolutionize The 21st Century

Imagine the government started handing out $10,000 annually to every adult in the country, or implemented a negative income tax rate so that low earners and people out of work would receive tax money instead of paying it.

Sounds like the ultimate socialist scheme, doesn’t it? Exactly the sort of thing the business community and conservative economists would label a job-killing farce destined to create a nation of lazy, uncompetitive good-for-nothings.

Hold the rations: The Canadian government vs. First Nations

Photo: flickr/Stephen HarperI was wondering when the first media report speaking about the resource revenue received by First Nations in relation to the First Nations Transparency Act (FNTA) would come out. And then there was a swarm of media articles.
This sudden interest in First Nations governance prompts the question: What is the real reason why the Canadian Government is forcing the issue of financial transparency amongst First Nations people?