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, March 27, 2012

‘Well over 10,000’ computers used in attack on NDP leadership vote

The company that organized the electronic voting system at the NDP leadership convention is now blaming an orchestrated attack involving tens of thousands of computers for the delays that marred the election of a new party leader.

While only a few thousand NDP members chose to use the electronic voting system on Saturday, the website was hit by hundreds of thousands of Internet requests that “jammed up the pipe,” Scytl Canada said in a news release.

“Well over 10,000 malevolent IP addresses (computers) have been identified so far, as having generated many hundreds of thousands of false voting requests to the system,” said the company, which is headquartered in Spain.

Scytl Canada said the attackers used computers around the world, but mainly in Canada, to conduct the “distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.”

Healthcare Jujitsu: A Path to Medicare for All

Not surprisingly, today’s debut Supreme Court argument over the so-called “individual mandate” requiring everyone to buy health insurance revolved around epistemological niceties such as the meaning of a “tax,” and the question of whether the issue is ripe for review.

Behind this judicial foreplay is the brute political fact that if the Court decides the individual mandate is an unconstitutional extension of federal authority, the entire law starts unraveling.

But with a bit of political jujitsu, the President could turn any such defeat into a victory for a single-payer healthcare system – Medicare for all.

Here’s how.

The dilemma at the heart of the new law is that it continues to depend on private health insurers, who have to make a profit or at least pay all their costs including marketing and advertising.

Bill strips refugees' rights, advocates say

A new bill under debate is dangerous and will strip refugee claim-ants of their most basic rights under Canadian and international law, according to a group of human-rights advocates and refugee lawyers.

The Justice for Refugees and Immigrants Coalition, comprising members from Amnesty International, the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Canadian Council for Refugees, held a news conference Monday to denounced Bill C-31.

Bill C-31, now at second reading, is an attempt to update the Immigration and Refugee Protections Act in the hopes of speeding the process and limiting a backlog of applicants. It could become law as early as June.

"C-31 is a bill that violates the Canadian Charter of Rights, international law and common sense as well," said Peter Showler of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers. "We believe it is necessary to reform Canada's refugee system, but it is important to do it in a way that has features that are fast, fair and effective. None of these features are contained in Bill C-31."

Canada's companies will remain involved in F-35 project: Harper

SEOUL, South Korea — While his government isn't giving any guarantees Canada will buy the F-35, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Canada will remain involved in the stealth fighter project to ensure Canadian companies can continue participating.

"We have received literally hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts for the Canadian aerospace industry. This is not a trivial matter," Harper said at the conclusion of a major summit on nuclear security in Seoul on Tuesday.

"We haven't yet signed a contract, as you know. We retain that flexibility. But we are committed to continuing our aerospace sector's participation in the development of the F-35."

Sixty-six Canadian companies have so far acquired $435 million worth of contracts related to the F-35 since Canada became a partner in the multibillion-dollar project in 1997.

Paradis in more hot water over 2009 hunting trip

Beleaguered federal Industry minister Christian Paradis is facing fresh criticism for staying at the exclusive hunting lodge of the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques, at a time when the federal government was being lobbied to help finance a new NHL arena.

CTV News has learned that in 2009, when Paradis was public works minister, he stayed at the lodge of Marcel Aubut, the former owner of the Quebec Nordiques.

At that time, Aubut, who is now president of the Canadian Olympic Committee, was lobbying Ottawa to help fund a $400-million arena in Quebec City.

Quebec City has been pitching for a new professional hockey team in the provincial capital for a number of years.

"If you are that minister you should under no circumstances accept any invitations to go to a hunting camp unless it's from your family," said Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau.

Paradis' office confirmed that he spent two nights at the lodge, and he was in a group that successfully hunted a moose. However, his office insisted that the minister took his own gear and supplied his own food.

New Brunswick Budget 2012: 4,500 Government Jobs To Be Cut: Source

FREDERICTON - The New Brunswick government plans to cut 4,500 jobs from the province's civil service over the next three years to tackle its deficit, a government source told The Canadian Press on Monday.

The source said Tuesday's provincial budget will outline the elimination of 1,500 jobs a year through attrition, which would reduce the size of the public service by five per cent at the end of the cuts.

The province's Progressive Conservative government has been searching for ways to streamline the delivery of government services since it was elected 18 months ago in an effort to cut spending and fulfil a campaign pledge to balance the budget by the end of its mandate in 2014.

Danny Legere, president of CUPE New Brunswick, said he was "shocked and disappointed" that job cuts will be announced in the budget.

"Government talked about cutting the fat but certainly 1,500 jobs every year for three years is far beyond that," he said.

How 'Muzzled' Are Canada's Federal Scientists?

Kristi Miller would likely be able to help Canadians who don't have degrees in biology understand her groundbreaking — and complex — research into the Pacific salmon stock, which was published more than a year ago.

But so far, the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans scientist, who toils in a lab on Vancouver Island, has only spoken publicly at a formal inquiry into the decline of sockeye salmon in the Fraser River.

Media requests to speak to her have not resulted in interviews — and the decision to keep her off-limits to reporters has reached as high as officials in the Privy Council Office in Ottawa.

The federal government says it is not muzzling its scientists, but Miller's name often emerges when the issue arises, as it has more frequently of late both inside and outside Canada's scientific community.

For some, there's far more at stake here than a simple opportunity for a biologist or a climatologist to talk about viruses or the ozone layer.

Elections Canada Chief To Brief MPs On Robocalls Thursday

Canadians may get more information on the fraudulent robocalls controversy as the head of Elections Canada appears before MPs later this week.

Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand will appear before the procedure and House affairs committee Thursday morning after putting out a statement asking for the chance to update MPs about the ongoing investigation in Guelph, Ont. coming out of the May 2, 2011 election.

A notice for the committee meeting says the subject is "allegations of wrongdoing" during the 41st general election.

Mayrand's appearance, the timing of which was decided by the committee's Conservative chairman Joe Preston, comes at a time when many reporters will be "locked up" in the annual federal budget briefing, without access to the internet, and on a day when a lot of the public's attention will be on the budget.

Why Obama's Healthcare Law Is Constitutional

What is at stake in the case challenging the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), scheduled for oral argument in the Supreme Court in March? The challengers maintain that the case is about fundamental liberty, specifically our freedom not to be compelled to purchase things we don’t want. But that frame, while undoubtedly appealing to the radical libertarian strain in the Tea Party, is misleading. In fact, the only “liberty” that would be protected by a victory for the challengers is the freedom of insurance companies to discriminate against sick people.

The case is principally focused on the “individual mandate,” the law’s requirement that people who are not insured and can afford health insurance must buy it or pay a tax penalty. The federal government is a government of limited powers, and although Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce, the challengers concede, if it can force people to “enter into commerce” in order to regulate them, then its powers are in effect unlimited. The reason Congress has never imposed such a mandate, they maintain, is that the power does not properly exist.

Wisconsin GOP Legislators Go After Single Mothers

If you had any doubt that Republicans have an even bigger anti-woman agenda than their love of compulsory vaginal probes might suggest, consider Wisconsin’s Senate Bill 507.

Co-sponsored by two GOP state legislators, Senator Glenn Grothman and Representative Don Pridemore, it directs the state to prepare educational materials that blame “nonmarital parenthood” for child abuse and neglect and “emphasize the role of fathers in the primary prevention” of same. Don’t be fooled by that gender-neutral abstraction “parenthood.” This bill is clearly aimed at shaming and blaming single mothers. “Fathers” after all prevent harm to children, so logically the only parents left to cause it are... yes, those unmentionable women who have the babies without a wedding ring to show for it. You might think that even in Wisconsin it takes two to tango down the aisle, but not according to Senator Grothman, who says, "There's been a huge change over the last 30 years, and a lot of that change has been the choice of the women."

Maybe, but a lot of it isn’t. It’s not as if men are eager for shotgun weddings either.

White House Offers To Curtail Drone Program In Pakistan, Officials Say

WASHINGTON -- In a bid to save the CIA's drone campaign against al-Qaida in Pakistan, US officials offered key concessions to Pakistan's spy chief that included advance notice and limits on the types of targets. But the offers were flatly rejected, leaving US-Pakistani relations strained as President Barack Obama prepares to meet Tuesday with Pakistan's prime minister.

CIA Director David Petraeus, who met with Pakistan's then-spy chief, Lt. Gen. Ahmed Shuja Pasha at a meeting in London in January, offered to give Pakistan advance notice of future CIA drone strikes against targets on its territory in a bid to keep Pakistan from blocking the strikes – arguably one of the most potent U.S. tools against al-Qaida.

The CIA chief also offered to apply new limits on the types of targets hit, said a senior U.S. intelligence official briefed on the meetings. No longer would large groups of armed men rate near-automatic action, as they had in the past – one of the so-called "signature" strikes, where CIA targeters deemed certain groups and behavior as clearly indicative of militant activity.

In Secret Documents, Anti-Gay Marriage Group Looked To Divide Gays, Blacks

The leading opponents of same-sex marriage planned to defeat campaigns for gay marriage by "fanning the hostility" between black voters from gay voters and by casting President Obama as a radical foe of marriage, according to confidential documents made public in a Maine court today.

The documents, circulated by the gay rights group Human Rights Campaign, are marked "confidential" and detail the internal strategy of the National Organization for Marriage.

“The strategic goal of this project is to drive a wedge between gays and blacks—two key Democratic constituencies," says an internal report on 2008 and 2009 campaigns, in a section titled the "Not A Civil Right Project."

"Find, equip, energize and connect African American spokespeople for marriage, develop a media campaign around their objections to gay marriage as a civil right; provoke the gay marriage base into responding by denouncing these spokesmen and women as bigots," advises the document, which is a road map to the successful campaign against same-sex marriage in California.

The document also targets Hispanic voters, whom conservatives have long hoped would join the backlash against gay rights.

Craig Sonner, George Zimmerman's Lawyer, Reportedly Flees Lawrence O'Donnell Interview

In a bizarre turn of events, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed an empty chair on his program Monday night, after scheduled guest Craig Sonner reportedly fled from an MSNBC studio in Orlando just moments before the show began.

Sonner represents George Zimmerman, the former neighborhood watchman who shot and killed 17-year-old Florida resident Trayvon Martin in February. His appearance on O'Donnell's program would have been just the latest in a string of high-profile media interviews over the past several days, as he's attempted to shift the narrative surrounding the case. In previous conversations, Sonner has continually insisted that the shooting was motivated not by race, but was instead a matter of self-defense -- though the attorney has declined to answer several questions about the specifics of his client's defense.

Paul Ryan Budget Likely To Go Back On Shelf After House Passage

WASHINGTON — Conservatives claimed credit Tuesday for forcing House GOP leaders to draft a tougher budget plan than initially planned, even as they pressed an alternative proposal that claims to balance the budget in just five years.

The competing budget plans are headed for a House vote Thursday, with conservatives pressing for larger cuts to Medicaid and the agency budgets passed by Congress each year.

The leadership-backed plan by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., is a favorite to prevail over the even more stringent plan unveiled by a group of the Republican Study Committee, which represents the conservative wing of the party.

Most conservatives are expected to ultimately rally behind the Ryan budget. And they say it's a lot tougher than the plan Ryan initially proposed.

"Because of the actions of the ... RSC, the budget you're going to see offered by the larger Republican conference later this week is a really, really good budget, a much more conservative budget than we started off with at the beginning of the year," said Rep. Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C.

Trayvon Martin's Family Vows To Keep Fighting Amid 'Character Assaults,' Official Leaks

SANFORD, Fla.— As a crowd of several hundred protesters swarmed outside of the Sanford Civic Center on Monday night, Trayvon Martin’s family shared a rare, quiet moment backstage.

The family’s attorneys spoke softly to one another. The Rev. Al Sharpton floated between their dressing room and the dark corridor leading to the stage. Trayvon's parents munched on slices of pizza and fiddled with their cell phones.

There were no photographers, no gaggle of reporters and no rapid-fire questions about how they’re feeling or what they think the fate of George Zimmerman, their son’s killer, might be.

They had a moment to themselves.

But soon they would be ushered out in front of the City Commission to make their latest pleas for justice for their son, whose killer remains free on claims of self-defense.

“Twenty minutes,” a man in a dark suit said from the doorway.

Gulf Oil Spill: Coral Death 'Definitively' Linked To BP Spill

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After months of laboratory work, scientists say they can definitively finger oil from BP's blown-out well as the culprit for the slow death of a once brightly colored deep-sea coral community in the Gulf of Mexico that is now brown and dull.

In a study published Monday, scientists say meticulous chemical analysis of samples taken in late 2010 proves that oil from BP PLC's out-of-control Macondo well devastated corals living about 7 miles southwest of the well. The coral community is located over an area roughly the size of half a football field nearly a mile below the Gulf's surface.

The damaged corals were discovered in October 2010 by academic and government scientists, but it's taken until now for them to declare a definite link to the oil spill.

Most of the Gulf's bottom is muddy, but coral colonies that pop up every once in a while are vital oases for marine life in the chilly ocean depths. The injured and dying coral today has bare skeleton, loose tissue and is covered in heavy mucous and brown fluffy material, the paper said.

Military Academies Hold First Gay Pride Events

NORTHFIELD, Vt. -- At the beginning of the school year, gay pride events at a military academy with titles like "condom Olympics" and "queer prom" would have been unthinkable. This week, they're a reality.

Cadets in uniform at Norwich University, the nation's oldest private military academy, participated Monday in sessions about handling bullying and harassment as part of the school's first gay pride week. The events are believed to be the first of their kind on a military campus.

Just over six months after the end of the "don't ask, don't tell" rule that prohibited gays and lesbians from serving openly in the armed forces, it's a different – and less secretive – world.

Until last year, only a select few at Norwich knew of the sexual orientation of Joshua Fontanez, 22, of Browns Mills, N.J., a past president of the student government who quietly laid the groundwork for the school's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Questioning and Allies Club, which held its first meeting the day the law ended.

He had always wanted to be a soldier but figured he'd have to keep his sexuality a secret.

Pentagon Stays Silent on Whether Suspect in Afghan Massacre Took Controversial Anti-Malaria Drug

As Staff. Sgt. Robert Bales is charged with murdering 17 Afghans, we speak with reporter Mark Benjamin, who revealed the Pentagon recently launched an emergency review of a controversial anti-malaria drug known to induce psychotic behavior. Mefloquine, also called Lariam, is used to protect soldiers from malaria, but has been known to have side effects including paranoia and hallucinations. It has been implicated in a number of suicides and homicides, including within U.S. military ranks. In 2009, the Army decreed that soldiers who’ve suffered traumatic brain injuries should not be given the drug. But this month, just nine days after Bales’ shooting rampage, the Army issued an emergency decree calling for the review to be expedited. "The military announced that this drug should not be given to people who have brain problems like traumatic brain injuries," Benjamin says. "What the military has discovered is that out on the battlefield, those rules aren’t being followed, and some soldiers who do have these kinds of problems are getting this drug." The Pentagon says there’s no connection between its review of mefloquine and the murders, but it’s refused to confirm or deny whether Bales was given the drug. Benjamin reports for the Huffington Post that the Pentagon initially ordered the review of mefloquine in January.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

House Speaker John Boehner Won't Drop Defense Of Marriage Support

WASHINGTON -- Congressional Democrats on Monday took another shot at persuading House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) into dropping his legal support for the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal law that bans same-sex marriage. It appears the effort will have little effect, however.

Six House Democrats sent Boehner a letter highlighting a Feb. 22 federal court decision that declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional. That, along with similar rulings, should be enough proof that Boehner should join their fight to repeal the law instead of defending it in court, the Democrats said. Boehner stepped in to defend the law in court on behalf of the federal government in March 2011, just after Attorney General Eric Holder deemed it unconstitutional and stopped defending it.

"We write to bring your attention to another court decision declaring Section 3 of the 'Defense of Marriage Act' (DOMA) unconstitutional and to again urge you to work with us to repeal this harmful law rather than prolonging it through litigation," reads the letter from Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Barney Frank (Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (Wisc.), Jared Polis (Colo.), David Cicilline (R.I.) and John Conyers (Mich.). All are lead sponsors of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act.

Lawsuits to demand elections be annulled in 7 ridings

OTTAWA — Lawsuits will be filed to annul election results in seven ridings across the country, the Council of Canadians said Monday.

The group announced it would be supporting the lawsuits but did not reveal what ridings will be challenged. The details are to be unveiled today at an announcement in Ottawa.

The Council of Canadians says the lawsuits are based on "evidence of irregularities, fraud and other activities that affected the outcome of the 2011 election."

Due to legal requirements, the group will not be launching the legal action directly, said spokesman Dylan Penner. Instead, the legal challenge will come from voters in each of the seven ridings in question.

Penner would not say how the Council of Canadians would be involved or if it would foot the legal bills.

It appears one area that will be challenged is the Ontario riding of Nipissing-Timiskaming. Peggy Walsh Craig, a resident of the riding, is to take part in today’s announcement.

Women’s abortion rights may vanish if the NDP doesn’t choose a fiery leader

“Women Can’t Be Trusted.” That’s the new name that women activists at the NDP convention have given to Motion M-312, Tory MP Stephen Woodworth’s thus-far successful trek down the bloody path of ending abortion rights in Canada. Women are angry, and the NDP is hearing them.

The slogan is not as snappy as my favourite, “Wombs for Woodworth,” but it has the virtue of being direct, much better than the Kitchener MP’s own timid “Canada’s 400-Year-Old Definition of a Human Being Motion M-312.” He’s passing himself off as a modernizer, this absurd MP who Tweets about his head cold and declares on his website, “All Canadians want the same things.”

No. We don’t. I hope your cold gets better. But we don’t all agree that a girl or a woman should be forced to give birth. Please leave us alone, sir.

Woodworth pretends that allowing a woman dominion over her own body is as old-fashioned as carbon paper. Golly, let’s digitize these old rules for gals and what goes on Down There. He won’t use the word “abortion,” and I call that cowardly.

His progress so far: in April, he will begin a Commons debate on establishing a Conservative-led MPs committee to decide how deeply the state can intrude into the body cavities of every pregnant woman.

Is Cooperation Among Opposition Parties Dead?

Now that Tom Mulcair is leader of the NDP, what happens to the proposal for cooperation among the opposition parties?

The idea is not dead, because the logic of the single member constituency electoral system punishes parties that fail to coordinate when they compete for the same space on the ideological spectrum.

That said, the NDP strategy under Mulcair is to expand the NDP rather than build alliances (quiet discussion among the leaders, behind closed doors, may still happen). The NDP will try and occupy the space historically occupied by the Liberals. And Bob Rae is not a good person to win that space back: his credentials are that he managed one of the worst provincial NDP governments ever.   

If the Tory government continues to govern as if it has the support of a majority of the electorate, it is possible that this will generate enough backlash to enable the NDP to win a majority government in 2015. But that is not likely as long as the economy is in reasonably good shape. The robocalls scandal is a wild card, but so far has not done major damage. Even if the NDP and Liberals do not agree on any formal cooperation, however, they have to think in terms of how they might govern together as a coalition. These are the issue that partisans should be worrying about. But let's look at the situation through less partisan lenses.

Robocalls: Activist group files legal challenge of results in seven ridings

A citizen advocacy group is asking the Federal Court of Canada to overturn election results in seven ridings where telephone dirty tricks may have kept voters away from the polls.

The Council of Canadians says pre-recorded robocalls and live calls influenced the outcome of votes in closely fought races in British Columbia, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Yukon and Ontario.

The group is backing the first legal challenge of election results since the Ottawa Citizen and Postmedia News revealed ongoing Elections Canada investigations into misleading election day calls in Guelph and other ridings.

The organization's lawyers filed four applications in court on Friday and was due to file three more Monday, all seeking have the results of the votes set aside.

The applications claim that irregular, fraudulent or illegal activities affected the outcome in each of the seven ridings.

Russia's Change of Heart?

Russia's decision to support a UN resolution on Syria was more about its comfort with the wording of the text then it was a shift in Kremlin policy.

After a few months of intense deliberation, the United Nations Security Council managed to reach an agreement in the ongoing Syrian conflict. It embraced former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan’s peace plan, which calls for the negotiation of a ceasefire between government and opposition forces, the beginning of a process of political transition, and guaranteed delivery of humanitarian aid to refugees and other victims of the violence. While the statement does not have the power of a formal Security Council resolution, it is a significant step forward. Russia’s agreement to its terms is particularly interesting, as it seems to represent a marked shift away from the country’s original stanch stand against any resolution on the Syrian conflict. So why was this negotiation strategy successful in wooing Russia when others were not? The difference is that, this time around, the talks took into consideration Russian interests, the complexities of intercultural negotiations, and Russian negotiation behaviour, addressing those issues within the text of the resolution.

Mulcair attacks Tories for ‘killing’ manufacturing sector

Thomas Mulcair is focusing on economic development and job creation as the new leader of the Official Opposition, hoping to fight off Conservative efforts to brand the NDP as a high-tax, big-spending party.

The strategy includes attacking the Conservative government for favouring the expansion of the oil sands at the expense of high-paying manufacturing jobs, putting him in the middle of a public spat between Ontario and Alberta.

It is a long thought-out strategy for the new NDP Leader, who is putting his experience as a minister of the environment in Quebec and his party's finance critic to use in planning for the 2015 election.

Sticking closely to his written text as he asked his first questions in his new capacity, Mr. Mulcair took straight aim at the government’s failure to protect the 2,600 workers affected by the shutdown of Aveos Fleet Performance Inc. in Winnipeg, Toronto and Montreal.

Thomas Mulcair off to a good start — with great timing

MONTREAL—There is a tide in the affairs of prime ministers and it suggests that Stephen Harper will eventually meet his opposition match.

It is too early to predict that Thomas Mulcair will fit that bill in three years but on this — the very first week of his tenure as NDP leader — he is starting off looking like the strongest challenger to emerge from the opposition ranks in half-a-dozen years.

Intellect for intellect, the Liberals were as ably served by Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff as the NDP will be by Mulcair.

Notwithstanding two flat convention speeches (for which he made up with a round of competent post-victory media appearances), Mulcair brings stronger communication skills than Dion or for that matter Ignatieff, whose training in the give-and-take atmosphere of academic debate did not prepare him for the cut-and-thrust of partisan politics.

Committee votes council a 3.1% raise

An "automatic" pay raise of 3.1% for members of London city council won support Monday from council's finance and administrative services committee.

It was anything but automatic, however, as committee members fretted about whether they deserve a raise and some talked about doing without.

Administration advised the committee that under a council policy, council members, who haven't had a raise since 2008, were entitled to one. The policy calls for a 3.1% hike this year based on the Consumer Price Index.

"If you don't accept this, you are afraid of what the community will say," Coun. Harold Usher said when several members opposed it.

"It's utter nonsense to say we don't deserve it," he said. "We're not getting the proper remuneration right now."

Native-led oil pipeline protest draws hundreds to Vancouver Art Gallery

Protesters marching through downtown Vancouver Monday promised to fight big oil and big government and put a stop to proposed pipeline expansions in B.C.

Chanting native elders wearing button blankets and pounding drums led more than 300 marchers to the Vancouver Art Gallery for a noon rally where they were joined by hundreds more.

Pipelines proposed by Kinder Morgan and Enbridge require First Nations support, and if Monday’s rally is any indication there is plenty of opposition in that camp.

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip was one of many high-powered native leaders who said Prime Minister Stephen Harper has bitten off more than he can chew if he thinks more oil tankers will be allowed on B.C.’s west coast.

“We all know this government is a few clowns short of a circus, and that this fight will intensify,” said

Mayor Rob Ford hints he’ll oppose conservative who defied him on subways

Councillor John Parker, an impeccably credentialed conservative, was an MPP in Mike Harris’ provincial government. Mayor Rob Ford chose him as council’s deputy speaker, and he has voted with Ford on nearly every major issue.

Nearly. He opposed Ford’s push for a subway extension on Sheppard and a below-ground-only light rail line on Eglinton. And now Ford, who says he will turn the 2014 election into a de facto referendum on council’s transit votes, is hinting publicly he will support an effort to defeat Parker.

Parker (Ward 26, Don Valley West) beat business owner and former police officer Jon Burnside by only 415 votes in 2010. Ford said on his Sunday radio show he will organize a candidate slate to try to unseat his transit opponents — and praised Burnside and Ken Chan, who lost in 2010 to left-leaning Kristyn Wong-Tam, by name.

“They ran — they came very close seconds — but these are the type of people, we have to get them on council,” Ford said.

Understanding Harper's Evangelical Mission

Any Canadian listening to the news these days might well conclude that the Republican extremists or some associated evangelical group has occupied Ottawa.

And they'd be righter than Job, I believe.

Almost daily, more evidence surfaces that Canada's government is guided by tribalists averse to scientific reason in favour of Biblical fundamentalism -- or what some call "evangelical religious skepticism."

First came Canada's pull-out of the Kyoto agreement without any rational or achievable national plan to battle carbon pollution.

Next came the hysterical and unprecedented letter by Natural Resource Minister Joe Oliver, an investment banker. It branded local environmentalists and First Nations as foreign radicals because they dared to question the economic and environmental impacts of a Chinese-funded pipeline.

EPA Power Plant Pollution Rules To Move Forward

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is pressing ahead with the first-ever limits on heat-trapping pollution from new power plants.

Administration officials told The Associated Press that the long-delayed proposal will be released Tuesday.

The regulation is likely to draw fire from Republicans, who have claimed it will increase electricity prices and clamp down on domestic energy resources.

But it also will fall short of environmentalists' hopes because it goes easier than it could have on coal-fired power generation. Coal-burning plants are already struggling to compete with cheap natural gas.

The proposed rule will not apply to existing power plants or new ones built in the next year. It will also give future coal-fired power plants years to meet the standard, which will eventually require carbon pollution to be captured and stored underground.

Original Article
Source: Huff
Author: ---

How ALEC Is Creating Florida-Style Messes in Other States

Wisconsin is a rod-and-gun state, with a hunting history that has fostered traditions of broad gun ownership and respect for the right to bear arms.

So how did Wisconsin get saddled with a “Castle Doctrine” law that mirrors some of the worst aspects of the Florida legislation that's now at the center of the controversy over the killing of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin.

Not because sportsmen and women, law enforcement officers, legal scholars or grassroots citizens decided Wisconsin should borrow bad ideas from distant states.

Wisconsin has a "Castle Doctrine" law because the American Legislative Exchange Council, the corporate-funded group that aligns special-interest organizations and corporate donors with pliable legislators, made the Florida law "model legislation." Then ALEC-aligned political insiders such as Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, a national ALEC task-force member, and Governor Scott Walker, an ALEC alumnus, introduced, passed and signed “Castle Doctrine” legislation—despite warnings from Wisconsin law enforcement leaders and responsible gun owners that it was a poor fit for the state.

'Koch Brothers Exposed:' New Film Examines How Billionaire Brothers Shaped The Political Narrative

WASHINGTON -- Over the past two years, Charles and David Koch have commanded a great deal of attention and been held up as an example of how corporate forces have corrupted the democratic process in America. Now a provocative new film, "Koch Brothers Exposed," seeks to uncover how the Koch brothers have manipulated the political narrative for personal and ideological gain, particularly in the post-Citizens United era.

The film, directed by Robert Greenwald, who notably uncovered unethical labor practices at Wal-Mart in his documentary "Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Wages," is set to premiere in New York City on March 29.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Greenwald said that the Kochs' money and power have had an "unparalleled" impact.

"The Kochs are using their money, their power and the inequalities of our system for personal gain," he said, "and the size and scale that they're doing it at is fairly impressive."

The Commons: Tom’s first day at school

The Scene. Olivia Chow stood and bestowed her blessing upon him. A Conservative backbencher, Jeff Watson, stood and recited the talking points. And then the Speaker pronounced the time for oral questions and called on the honourable leader of the opposition to stand.

Thomas Mulcair rose and so did the entirety of his caucus, his colleagues sounding his arrival with a great “Woooo!” The Liberals and, eventually, the Conservatives stood too, the House of Commons offering its unanimous regards to the newly delivered leader of the NDP.

The press gallery was filled nearly to capacity. Sitting in the opposition leader’s gallery across from him watched his wife, a few of his aides, former MP Bill Blaikie, newly elected MP Craig Scott, Jack Layton’s former chief of staff, Anne McGrath, and Paul Dewar’s wife and two teenage sons. And also, apparently by some mistake, Arlene Perly Rae, wife of the interim Liberal leader.

When the House had quieted, Mr. Mulcair began.

Deep federal department-level cuts expected in budget

OTTAWA — House of Commons spending, MPs' pensions and department budgets are in the crosshairs as the Conservative government prepares to table a budget Thursday that is expected to contain billions of dollars in spending cuts.

The Department of National Defence, Public Works and Government Services, Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Environment Canada, Foreign Affairs and the federal auditor general are just a handful of the departments and offices that either have already been targeted for substantial savings over the next few years or are expected to face sizable cuts in the budget.

Furthermore, the House of Commons budget will be cut by almost seven per cent — or around $30 million — over the next couple of years, according to NDP House leader Joe Comartin, who sits on the secretive multi-party Board of Internal Economy that approves Commons spending.

Cutting the $446-million Commons budget could affect MPs' travel, office staff on Parliament Hill and in constituencies, as well as the number of green buses that cruise around downtown Ottawa to pick up and drop off parliamentarians and staff at their offices.

Harper approved 'opportunist,' 'divisive,' 'blind ambition' attack against Mulcair, says NDP MP

PARLIAMENT HILL—The NDP believes Prime Minister Stephen Harper personally approved a nasty attack the Conservative Party launched against newly elected New Democrat Leader Tom Mulcair, trying to label the feisty former Quebec Liberal as “opportunist” blinded by ambition.

But Mr. Mulcair (Outremont, Que.), who took on the government for the time as the new Opposition Leader in the Commons on Monday, suggested after his first Question Period in that role that, unlike a string of Liberal leaders the Conservative attack machine dismembered over the past three federal elections, it won’t be so easy this time.

“They’re very good at defining their adversaries. We’re going to start to define them,” Mr. Mulcair told a crush of reporters after he used his first three questions as the new opposition leader to press the government over unemployment, youth job losses and the bitter Air Canada labour dispute.

F-35s don't meet military's requirements, documents show

The federal government didn't follow normal procurement procedures to buy the F-35 fighter jets and the plane fails to meet at least one critical feature the government stipulated must be met, documents viewed by CBC News suggest.

CBC Power & Politics host Evan Solomon reported Monday that the exclusive new evidence reveals for the first time the Canadian military's requirements for the aircraft that are to replace the aging fleet of CF-18s.

Solomon said the statement of operational requirements, a document that has never been made public, outlines what the plane must be able to do in order to be purchased.

It describes specific mandatory characteristics without which the overall operational capability would be "unacceptably diminished."

One of the 28 mandatory requirements listed is for the plane's sensor requirements. The document says the plane must be capable of providing the pilot with 360-degree, out-of-cockpit visual situational awareness in a no-light environment.

Air Canada pilots urge union to open mind to industry’s ‘new realities’

Former labour leaders from the Air Canada Pilots Association are telling union members to open their minds to new ideas from the airline’s management.

“Every once in a while, an opportunity presents itself that if not taken advantage of, never presents itself again. This is one of those times. We face a critical choice. We can continue to work for a legacy carrier with a huge unfunded pension liability, a rigid work force and no ability to challenge its competition. Or, we can choose to adapt, adopt new ideas and work to secure a contract that provides industry-leading compensation while at the same time addressing the new realities of our industry,” said a memo written by 27 former ACPA leaders.

Air Canada (AC.B-T0.950.055.56%) has been seeking to start a low-cost carrier, to be based in Canada but with a minority stake of 25 per cent that would be held by a foreign carrier.

Landmark ruling legalizes Ontario brothels

Ontario’s highest court has legalized brothels in a sweeping decision that condemned current prostitution laws for adding to the hazards of a highly dangerous profession.

The Ontario Court of Appeal allowed the Crown just one victory, ruling that communicating for the purposes of prostitution will remain illegal.

The landmark decision is binding on Ontario courts and sets up a final showdown at the Supreme Court of Canada next fall or in early 2013.

Ontario Attorney-General John Gerretsen said on Monday that he intends to discuss appealing the decision with his federal counterparts. “Our main concern is that people feel safe in their communities, feel safe in their homes, and this kind of issue may very well need legislative action,” he said.

The five-judge appellate panel said unanimously that prostitutes may set up brothels and hire staff to protect them. They said that it is senseless to have a law that compels prostitutes to work in dangerous isolation, given that prostitution itself is legal.

Job losses fuel Mulcair's opening salvo against Tories

Thomas Mulcair received a standing ovation from all sides of the House of Commons as he rose to ask his first question as Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition on Monday.

But his debut in Question Period was immediately preceded by an attack in the form of a member’s statement from Jeff Watson, a Conservative MP from Southwestern Ontario. Mr. Watson had so much to say about the new NDP Leader that he ran out of time and his microphone was cut off.

New Democrats elected a new chief “who will continue to push its high tax, high spending, jobs-killing agenda,” Mr. Watson told the House

“This hug-a-thug, soft-on-crime leader will return Canada to policies favoring the rights of criminals over those of victims,” said Mr. Watson who labelled Mr. Mulcair an “opportunist” with a “divisive personality” and “ruthless ambition.”

Budget will tout Tory plan to ease environmental reviews

The Harper government will hand over the environmental review of certain resource projects to provinces as part of a long-promised overhaul of regulations to be highlighted in Thursday’s budget.

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver confirmed Monday that the budget will spell out the government’s intention to reduce regulatory delays faced by energy and mining companies when they propose major projects in Canada.

The package will include legislative amendments that are expected to be part of the government’s overall budget implementation act – a prospect that is raising concerns among opposition MPs and environmentalists that the Conservatives intend to ram through the changes with little debate.

Mr. Oliver said Ottawa is determined to streamline approvals and reduce duplication, and wants to reach deals with individual provinces that would see only one level of government conduct an environmental assessment of a major resource project.