Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Canada's residential schools weren't killing culture, they were killing Indians

Canada's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) just released its Executive Summary Report on their inquiry into Indian Residential Schools finding that in Canada's dealings with Indigenous Nations, it had engaged in a form of genocide and made 94 recommendations for action.
The TRC's mandate came from the class-action litigation (and subsequent settlement) by survivors of the residential schools who wanted Canadians to have a true understanding of what happened in those schools. The Summary Report represents over six years of historical research, investigation and the documentation of the stories of over 6,750 survivors. The final report is expected to be at least six volumes.

Evan Solomon isn’t the only one at the CBC who should be fired

As they say in Newfoundland, the arse is out of her. The CBC has hit the reef.

Evan Solomon — more the face of the Corporation than Peter Mansbridge, if only because he was heir-apparent to the big chair on The National — has been caught dead to rights steering contacts to an art dealer.

That art dealer, Bruce Bailey, paid Solomon a 10 per cent commission on art sold to rich and powerful people like BlackBerry co-founder Jim Balsillie and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney — or the “Guv”, as Solomon referred to him in chummy emails to Bailey.

The Koch brothers and the Republican Party go to war — with each other

The Republican National Committee’s data arm last year called it a “historic” occasion when it struck a deal to share voter information with the Koch brothers’ rapidly expanding political empire.

It was an uneasy détente between the party committee, which views itself as the rightful standard-bearer for the GOP, and the behemoth funded by Charles and David Koch, which is free of the campaign finance restrictions that bind the RNC and plans to spend almost $900 million in the 2016 election cycle to elect a Republican to the White House.

Government's Secret Surveillance Court May Be About to Get a Little Less Secret

When the USA Freedom Act was passed last week, it was hailed as the first major limit on NSA surveillance powers in decades. Less talked about was the law's mandate to open a secret intelligence court to unprecedented scrutiny.

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, often known as the FISA court after the 1978 law that created it, rules on government requests for surveillance of foreigners. Its 11 federal judges, appointed by the chief justice of the Supreme Court, consider the requests one at a time on a rotating basis. In closed proceedings, they have approved nearly every one of the surveillance orders that have come before the court, and their rulings are classified.

Risks To Canada's Economy Are On The Rise, Bank Of Canada Warns

OTTAWA - The still-uncertain fallout from the steep drop in oil prices has left the country's financial system more vulnerable to any significant economic shocks to employment and incomes, the Bank of Canada said Thursday.

In its latest financial system review, the central bank said the oil slump on its own is unlikely to set off considerable systemic stress and the probability of a severe recession remains low.

Freedom Of Information Requests More Costly, Less Informative: Report

HALIFAX - People are waiting longer, paying more and getting less information when they file requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act in Nova Scotia, according to a report by the review officer.

Catherine Tully also said the number of complaints to her office jumped 28 per cent last year and that 69 have already been filed in the first three months of this year.

With Vultures Circling, It's Time to Care about Medicare

There's been lots of attention paid recently to the Canada Pension Plan and how to extend it, and news stories and commentary about how adequate or otherwise Canadians' retirement situation will be. The sunshine boys over at the C.D. Howe Institute (a.k.a. the Isn't Capitalism Wonderful Institute, or ICWI) reassure us that everything is fine and we should just ignore all the warnings. The author of one ICWI study observes: "Canadians frequently read that they borrow too much, spend too much, save too little, retire too early and live too long."

How Harper Put Canada Massively in the Red

In the run up to the 2015 federal election, the Harper government will try to convince Canadians that the prime minister and his crew have been excellent managers of the Canadian economy and that only they are capable of delivering the same stellar results in the future. Heading into this election, they had intended to present a balanced federal budget as proof of their sound stewardship. But as I write this in spring 2015, the latest projections are that the Harper government will have difficulty delivering the long-promised surplus this year. Thanks to the precipitous fall in oil prices and revenues, the government's budgetary watchdog, Mostafa Askari, estimated a deficit as high as $1.2 billion for this year, and as much as $400 million the year following.

Should Stephen Poloz be more worried about the Canadian economy?

I hope Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz was putting on a brave face.

Despite a warning that risks had increased, mostly due to the property market, the avuncular Poloz was blandly reassuring when he met with the media yesterday to discuss the bank's latest Financial System Review.

His senior deputy Carolyn Wilkins was even more hypnotically nerveless.

Israel exonerates itself over Gaza beach killings of four children last year

The Israeli military has cleared itself of culpability in one of the most controversial incidents in last summer’s Gaza war: a missile attack that killed four children on Gaza beach and injured a number of others.

Israel’s advocate general’s office said the attack, which led to the death of four boys aged between nine and 11 was a “tragic accident”.

Black Americans and the Military: This Country Is Not to Die for

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"If violence is wrong in America, violence is wrong abroad. If it is wrong to be violent defending black women and black children and black babies and black men, then it is wrong for America to draft us, and make us violent abroad in defense of her. And if it is right for America to draft us, and teach us how to be violent in defense of her, then it is right for you and me to do whatever is necessary to defend our own people right here in this country." - Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz)
Black people should reconsider dying for a country that does not see fit for us to live. Since the US project began, Black people have been on the frontlines doing the work behind building, expanding and protecting this empire. This empire has never returned the favor - it has never fully recognized the humanity of or granted protection to Black people, in exchange for endless Black labor, blood, sweat and tears.

Congressman Makes Bizarre Claim About Obamacare

Over the past several years, several major surveys have all been delivering the same conclusion: The number of uninsured Americans is falling. One congressman, though, doesn’t believe it.
In an interview with the Trussville Tribune earlier this week, freshman Rep. Gary Palmer (R-AL) declared that, on net, no additional people have gained insurance since the passage of Obamacare. “I’m not sure that’s true that more people are covered,” Palmer declared after the host noted that more people have health care today than in 2010. “There’s just about as many people uninsured now as there were before the Affordable Care Act.”

Chris Christie Suggests College Students Should Sell Themselves To Investors To Pay Tuition

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke about student debt, school choice and teacher accountability at Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa, on Thursday. Christie is expected to announce a presidential run soon.
After delivering an account of how his father, an excellent student who was accepted at Columbia University, enlisted in the Army instead because he couldn’t afford the tuition, Christie said debt-free college was not the answer.

Why the TPP Is a Terrible Deal for Most Americans

Earlier this year, former Florida governor Jeb Bush travelled to my hometown of Detroit to explain his political philosophy. In a speech before local business leaders, Bush argued that the aim of government should be to promote “economic growth above all.”

“If a law or a rule doesn’t contribute to growth,” he asked, “why do it?” If a law subtracts from growth, why are we discussing it?”

The younger Bush brother is in good company. For the better part of a century, economic growth—as measured by the Gross Domestic Product (GDP)—has been the single most important guidepost for government decision-making. Nowhere is this clearer than in the current debate raging in Washington over the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement, wherein the deal’s proponents from the Chamber of Commerce to the Treasury Department routinely reach for their trump card: “Trade is good for economic growth.”

Harper's refusal to seek residential-schools apology from Pope 'deeply disappointing'

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is under fire for turning his back on aboriginal residential school survivors after he skipped a chance to personally urge the Pope to apologize for the Catholic Church’s role in the abusive system.

Harper met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday, just nine days after the release of the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC).

Instead of backing that commission’s call for a papal apology, Harper merely “drew attention” to a four-paragraph letter that Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt wrote last week to the Vatican to inform it of the TRC report.

Immigration minister calls Liberals 'the racist party'

Liberal John McCallum and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander had such a heated exchange over Muslim Canadians in question period Thursday that, after it was over, New Democrat Peggy Nash could only say, “Whoa.”

It started when McCallum asked Alexander whether he would apologize to Muslim Canadians, claiming Alexander implied that “all Muslim women who wear the veil are terrorists unless proven otherwise.”

Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go

As one summit closes, another opens. Thursday sees the start of the influential Bilderberg policy conference, which this year is being held in Austria, just 16 miles south of the G7 summit, and in a similarly inaccessible luxury alpine resort. The participant list for the conference has just been released by the organisation, and some big names leap off the page.

No fewer than three serving European prime ministers will be attending, from the Netherlands, Finland and Belgium. They will be discussing “European strategy” with the head of Nato, Jens Stoltenberg, and the president of Austria, Heinz Fischer. Two European finance ministers are on the list: one Dutch, the other George Osborne. The UK chancellor is a regular attendee of the Bilderberg summit, and this year he will be showing off his post-election glow. Unlike that other Bilderberg regular, Ed Balls, who is being invited back despite having by some considerable distance the weakest job title on the list: “former shadow chancellor of the exchequer.

G7 false commitments won't help us tackle 7 million air pollution deaths

During the hour that it took the world's elite G7 politicians discussing climate change to wander through an enchanting meadow of flowers in Germany's Bavarian Alps earlier this week, at least 800 people died prematurely from the impact of air pollution, most of it caused by the burning of non-renewable fossil fuels.
Wanting to show the world -- particularly voters at home -- that they care about the seven million people a year dying from various pollution and carbon related causes, the leaders of the world's richest countries, including Canada, signed a joint declaration calling for a global phasing-out of fossil fuels 85 years from now.

Small community, big resistance: Chilliwack fights Kinder Morgan

Chilliwack may be a small B.C. community, but it has a big problem with Kinder Morgan's proposed Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.
The existing Kinder Morgan pipeline, operating since 1953, currently carries 300,000 barrels per day through Chilliwack's drinking water and various water bodies, which are the home of culturally significant fish. Kinder Morgan wants to revive mothballed portions of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline, as well as build a new twin pipeline, increasing the capacity of the system to 890,000 barrels per day. The proposal is currently being reviewed by the National Energy Board (NEB).

Medical marijuana legal in all forms, Supreme Court rules

Medical marijuana patients will now be able to consume marijuana — and not just smoke it — as well as use other extracts and derivatives, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled today.

The unanimous ruling against the federal government expands the definition of medical marijuana beyond the "dried" form.

The country's highest court found the current restriction to dried marijuana violates the right to liberty and security "in a manner that is arbitrary and hence is not in accord with the principles of fundamental justice."

G7 puts Canada on the spot, calls for low emissions in energy sector

SCHLOSS ELMAU, Germany — Canada's energy sector will have to transform itself to lower greenhouse gas emissions in the long term, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Monday.
He was commenting at the end of the G7 leaders' summit which called on its members to put their energy sectors on a low-carbon footing by 2050, a move with serious implications for Canada's greenhouse-gas-emitting oilsands.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel fell short of her goal of pushing her fellow leaders to a broad, iron-clad commitment to a low-carbon economy by 2050. Instead, the G7 agreed to a full-blown no-carbon economy, but not until 2100.

Senate sets Canadian democracy ablaze with Bill C-51

They say Nero fiddled as Rome burned. While it may not feel as if Canada itself has been lit ablaze, it feels like Canadian democracy certainly has. Conservative and Liberal MPs doused it in gasoline with the passing of Bill C-51 in Parliament; the latter committing themselves to making corrections and edits once the fire was lit.

Now the Canadian Senate, that stern house of wisdom established to provide a sober second thought has thrown the match on the pile. Bill C-51 is now law, sending a loud and clear message to Canadians. Parliament and the Senate no longer serve the Canadian public, they serve political parties. And the political party in power now has its own secret police.

Bank CEO Wants To Mansplain The Financial System To Elizabeth Warren

Speaking at an event on Wednesday, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, said of Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren (D), “I don’t know if she fully understands the global banking system.”
Warren has already offered her retort to this assertion in an April speech. At that time, she noted that finance executives have already argued that those outside the industry don’t understand it. “The problem was never that I didn’t understand what the finance guys were doing,” she said. “The problem was that I understood exactly what the finance guys were doing. I knew it, and they knew it.”

China's Military Conducts Drills Near Taiwan, Philippines

BEIJING, June 10 (Reuters) - Chinese warships and aircraft on Wednesday passed through the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines to hold routine planned exercises in the Western Pacific, China's Defense Ministry said.

China's increasingly assertive moves to press sovereignty claims in the East and South China Sea have rattled the region and aroused concern in Washington, although the country says it has no hostile intent.

Europe Warns Greece That Time Is Running Out For A Deal

BRUSSELS (AP) — International creditors sent Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras home from a summit Thursday with a clear message: swiftly tone down your demands in the bailout talks over the next week or face financial ruin.

The International Monetary Fund took the toughest stance, saying it was bringing its negotiators back to Washington as there had been no sign of compromise.


News that the John Tory campaign's chief policy adviser has been lobbying for two of the mayor's pet causes has City Hall watchers connecting the dots.

When veteran political strategist John Duffy isn't generously providing free advice to politicians during election campaigns, the founding principal of StrategyCorp is paid to lobby them on behalf of companies like Uber and First Gulf. Given the city's current court action against Uber, it's clear why the online ride service needs a connected strategist. But developer First Gulf's power play requires a bit more unravelling.

Ferguson: If Negligent And Careless Poor People Can't Make Bail, It's Their Fault

ST. LOUIS -- When lawyers in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Divisioninvestigated the operations of the Ferguson Police Department and municipal court system, they found that local officials blamed a lack of “personal responsibility” among “certain segments” of the community for the incredible number of arrest warrants issued. DOJ’s report, which found that the city used its municipal court as a way to generate revenue, said that “lack of personal responsibility” was one of the “negative stereotypes about African Americans” held by decision makers in Ferguson.

The Counted: number of people killed by police this year reaches 500

The number of people killed by police in the United States during 2015 reached 500 on Wednesday, according to a Guardian investigation, after two young black men were shot dead in New York City and Cincinnati.

Isiah Hampton, 19, was fatally shot by New York police department officers at an apartment building in the Bronx on Wednesday morning, according to police chiefs. His death followed that of Quandavier Hicks, 22, during a confrontation with Cincinnati officers at a house on Tuesday night.

Trade Deal Targets Medicare, New Leak Reveals

For the second time in a week, Medicare is complicating an already fraught debate over the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

A recent draft of the health care transparency section of TPP released by Wikileaks on Wednesday reveals the deal would make Medicare vulnerable to legal challenges from pharmaceutical companies and jeopardize future attempts by the insurer to negotiate lower drug prices.

In a modest victory for global health care advocates, however, the leaked draft does not contain previous language explicitly protecting prescription drug prices from being marked down by government insurers.

Jamie Dimon Wants To Mansplain Banking To Elizabeth Warren

There are few people in Congress who criticize big Wall Street banks more than Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) does. A former Harvard bankruptcy law professor, she is the architect of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and chaired the government panel that oversaw the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which bailed out the financial sector in 2008.

But according to JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon, she really doesn't know what she's talking about.

Women Are Being Arrested and Jailed for Self-Abortion

In 2007, Anna Quindlen wrote a column in Newsweek titled “How much jail time?” asking the anti-abortion movement what sort of punishment women who terminate their pregnancies should receive if abortion is criminalized. In response, National Review convened an online symposium of anti-abortion leaders on the question, who largely dismissed the idea that women who have abortions would or should be locked up. Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, insisted that “compassion for women” would drive anti-abortion laws. “The focus of such laws is on protection, not punishment,” she said. “Women were not punished by the legal system before 1973’s Roe v. Wade decision and there is absolutely no drive to punish her now.”

Police Kill Black Women Too—and We Don't Talk About It Enough

During protests that shook Baltimore in April, Freddie Gray's name became a rallying cry in calls for criminal justice reform nationwide. But how many of us have heard of Rekia Boyd, the 22-year-old unarmed black woman who was fatally shot by a police detective in Chicago back in 2012? Just five days before demonstrations erupted for Gray in Maryland and then across the country, a judge acquitted the Chicago detective who killed Boyd, despite finding that he had acted in a manner that was "beyond reckless".

Britain Gets Cold Shoulder With Canada's Talk Of Joining NATO Force

OTTAWA - The Harper government is considering joining NATO's rapid reaction force, but doing so could mean spurning a traditional ally whose been courting Canada to be part of its formation.

Defence Minister Jason Kenney has acknowledged the government is discussing whether to become part of the alliance's high-readiness force, meant to deploy quickly in the event of a crisis.

He cast the idea as response to Russian aggression in eastern Europe.

Tories Have Shut Down Debate 100 Times This Parliament: Opposition

When it comes to the controversial practice of curtailing parliamentary debate, opposition parties say Conservatives have hit the century mark.

On Wednesday, 141 Tory MPs voted to pass a time allocation motion on Bill C-59, a 167-page, omnibus budget implementation bill that also contains unprecedented amendments to retroactively rewrite access to information laws.

Scientists Call for Moratorium on New Oilsands Development

Over a hundred prominent scientists in the U.S., Canada, Australia and Britain have called for a moratorium on any new projects to develop the Canadian oilsands, "unless consistent with an implemented plan to rapidly reduce carbon pollution, safeguard biodiversity, protect human health, and respect treaty rights."

In announcing their "consensus" at a press conference on Wednesday morning, the scientists pointed out that investment in further development would "double down, even quadruple down" Canada's commitment to an unsustainable energy source, leaving a "legacy for generations."

More Industry Linked Earthquakes Recorded in Alberta

More industry-linked earthquakes have shaken up Alberta's oil and gas fields in recent weeks from Fox Creek to Peace River, say experts and regulators.

In Fox Creek, Alberta, where industry triggered a 4.4 magnitude earthquake, a company fracking in the Duvernay Formation has reported more tremors.

"On May 28, an operator in the Fox Creek area reported two seismic events, of a magnitude 2.2 and 2.1 respectively," confirmed Ryan Bartlett, a spokesperson for the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Eight Ways the Harper Economy Is a Bust

The Harper government makes many claims but the numbers don't lie: on a wide range of economic indicators, Canada's performance is declining. Below are a number of statistics and comparisons, many from the OECD Factbook 2014, that provide an overview of our economic status and the overall fiscal health of the country.

1. Lousy jobs record. As I noted in yesterday's piece focusing on Harper's jobs record, Canada's unemployment rate is higher than it was before the 2008–11 recession. At the end of 2014, the participation rate in Canada's labour market hit a 13-year low at 66 per cent, more than a percentage point below 2008 levels. Eleven ECD countries have a higher proportion of persons of working age in employment. Canada has one of the highest rates of part-time employment in the OECD. Nineteen OECD countries have lower rates of unemployment in a recent three year average.

Energy experts take issue with Harper's G7 carbon pledge

In 2011 Canada withdrew from the Kyoto Accord. In 2013, it shut down the National Round Table on the Environment and the Economy (NRTEE). In 2014, Canada was accused of poor practices and delayed emission reduction policies by its federal Environment Commissioner.

For years, such events have stained the environmental legacy of Stephen Harper, who just last weekend pledged to go fossil fuel-free by 2100 with leaders at the Germany G7 summit. The commitment is internationally applauded, but some academics are taking the unusual step of questioning the merit of the prime minister’s pledge after years of failed go-green promises.

C-51, Harper's anti-terror bill will very soon be law

The appointed Senate of Canada did its duty on Tuesday evening and passed the Conservative government's omnibus anti-terror legislation Bill C-51.
There are those who argue that an unelected body should not have veto power over the elected House of Commons.
It might be strange for them to then turn around and say the Senate should have blocked C-51.
But you can look at it another way.

Stephen Harper, Jobs Killer

In the next election, the Harper Conservatives will boast about their role in helping Canada weather the 2008–11 recession, but bear in mind that the strong regulatory framework that helped our financial and banking institutions maintain stability was not the work of this government, but rather the result of many decades of strong fiscal governance by others.

Economist Jim Stanford has made careful comparisons of Harper's claims against his actual performance in articles for the Globe and Mail and others. Stanford says that there are some 400,000 discouraged unemployed workers who do not appear in the official unemployment statistics and that with other forms of hidden unemployment, the true unemployment rate in recent years is above 12 per cent. New job creation in Canada has barely kept pace with its population growth; indeed, in 2013 Canada ranked in the lower half of industrial countries with net job creation lagging 1.4 points behind population growth.

Retirees say pensions slashed by as much as 75% after miscalculation

Some former government employees are being forced to take a massive cut to their pensions years after retiring, because of what the organization in charge of calculating and administering the benefits says was a mistake that led to overpayments.

Alberta Pensions Services (APS), the government corporation that oversees the pensions of more than 330,000 Albertans, cut the monthly amounts for 22 pensioners and encouraged those retirees to sign a document agreeing not to talk about it.

Bill C-51 passed by Senate, despite widespread public opposition

Bill C-51 passed the Senate on June 9 in a 44-28 vote despite Liberal members’ opposition, but those opposed have vowed to fight until it is repealed.

“Proud to stand today with 25 Lib Senators against Bill C51. But the Con majority passed the bill which will affect your rights,” said Sen. Jim Munson (L) on Twitter just minutes after the vote,

Over 100 scientists call for oil sands moratorium

A group of more than 100 leading scientists from both Canada and the United States called for a moratorium on new oil sands development at a June 10 telephone press conference.

The scientists laid out 10 reasons why continued expansion of the oil sands is incompatible with keeping climate change at a level that does not cause widespread harm. These include: a lack of adequate protections and baseline data; contamination of the Canadian boreal zone; a lack of land reclamation; oil sands development and transport undermining First Nations land rights; developments in North America setting a precedent for combating climate change elsewhere; controlling carbon pollution not being an economic threat; cumulative impacts of oil sands development being ignored by current policies; and a majority of both Canadians and Americans wanting their leaders to address climate change.

The Nation's Most Conservative Court Just Shut Down Two-Thirds of Texas Abortion Clinics

Federal judges upheld a sweeping anti-abortion law on Tuesday in a decision that will shutter most abortion clinics in Texas.

The ruling held that the law, HB 2, which requires abortion facilities to comply with hospital-like standards, does not pose an undue burden for the majority of women seeking abortion in Texas, millions of whom will now have to travel hundreds of miles for an abortion.

U.S. Tech Industry Warns Obama To Leave Encryption Alone

WASHINGTON, June 9 (Reuters) - Top U.S. tech companies are warning the Obama administration against imposing new policies that the companies say would weaken increasingly sophisticated encryption systems designed to protect consumers' privacy.

In a strongly worded letter to President Barack Obama on Monday, two industry associations representing major software and hardware companies said, "We are opposed to any policy actions or measures that would undermine encryption as an available and effective tool."

Republican Nirvana: Congress Votes On Bill To Aid Wall Street Banks ... And The Koch Brothers

WASHINGTON -- House Republicans will vote Wednesday on a bill to help Wall Street banks and the Koch Brothers avoid regulatory scrutiny for risky trades similar to those at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis.

The legislation would allow banks to dodge market transparency and government oversight by conducting trades through offshore affiliates. By simply booking a trade in a London-based subsidiary, for instance, banks could avoid U.S. standards -- even if work on the trade was actually conducted within the United States. The bill would also hamstring funding for a key agency, and make it easier for the largest banks to sue financial regulators over rules the banks don't like.

The Fifth Circuit Just Stuck A Knife In Roe v. Wade

On Tuesday, a panel of three George W. Bush-appointed judges handed down a sweeping endorsement of the tactics anti-abortion lawmakers adopted in recent years in an effort to prevent abortion clinics from operating. With one narrow exception, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Cole is a total defeat for abortion providers who hoped to overcome a Texas law that will shut down most of the state’s abortion clinics. Worse for women seeking an abortion, the Fifth Circuit’s opinion would give many other states broad discretion to restrict access to abortion if its reasoning is ultimately adopted by the Supreme Court.

Oil Trains Don't Have to Derail or Explode to Be Hazardous, Doctors Warn

In May, hundreds of doctors, nurses and health-care professionals from Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) called on Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to take a stronger position against proposed oil-by-rail shipping terminals in their respective states, in order to insure the health and physical security of families and communities there.

Washington PSR describes itself as a group that promotes "peace and health for the human community and the global ecosystem by empowering members, citizens and policy makers to develop and model for the rest of the nation socially just and life-enhancing policies regarding nuclear issues, climate change, environmental toxins, vulnerable populations and other risks to human health."

How Obama Went From Being a Peace Candidate to a War President

When it comes to his administration’s foreign policy, Barack Obama must feel a little like Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III: “Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.”

Upon entering office, the president promised to end the wars of occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, reset American relations with Russia, and give priority to rebuilding the American middle class. Now, after being “pulled back in” by liberal interventionists and neoconservative hawks both inside and outside his administration, he finds himself pursuing a new open-ended war against the so-called Islamic State (ISIS), prosecuting an expanded counterterrorism campaign from Central Asia to North Africa, overseeing a new Cold War with Russia, and pivoting toward what could become one with China in East Asia.

Who Said It, Henry Kissinger or…?

Last week, Henry Kissinger was back in the news, or Fox News at least, saying he disagreedwith Rand Paul’s stance on domestic surveillance and urging the United States to escalate its fight against ISIS.

Neither position should be surprising. Within months of entering the White House as National Security advisor in early 1969, Kissinger goaded Richard Nixon to place illegal wiretaps on close friends and associates, journalists, and government officials, including his own NSC aide Morton Halperin (father of political commentator Mark). FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover’s memo of his phone call with Kissinger notes that Kissinger “hoped I would follow it up as far as we can take it and they will destroy whoever did this if we can find him, no matter where he is.”

Bob Woodward On Donald Rumsfeld's Iraq Comments: 'It's Just A Total Contradiction'

WASHINGTON -- Investigative journalist Bob Woodward on Tuesday rebutted former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s claims that he had always been skeptical about U.S. efforts to promote democracy in Iraq following the 2003 invasion.

“If you look at Rumsfeld’s memoir, and what the record is, and things he said on the record and hours of interviews with me, often months after the events -- it’s just a total contradiction,” Woodward said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”