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.]

Friday, August 30, 2013

Student Loan Forgiveness Program Available To Millions Who Aren't Utilizing It, CFPB Says

WASHINGTON -- More than 33 million workers qualify to have their student loans forgiven because they work in schools, hospitals or city halls, but too few take advantage of the options because the programs are overly complicated and often confusing, the government's consumer advocate said Wednesday.

Roughly a quarter of the U.S. workforce could take advantage of federal rules that give favorable loan repayment options to those in public service fields, including the military, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The agency recommended Congress review the loan forgiveness programs and encouraged employers to make sure their workers know they are available.

Jimmy Carter: Syria Strike Illegal Without U.N. Support

President Jimmy Carter spoke out against military action in Syria without support from the United Nations, saying any strikes without the U.N.'s blessing would be illegal.

"A punitive military response without a U.N. Security Council mandate or broad support from NATO and the Arab League would be illegal under international law and unlikely to alter the course of the war," said a statement from the Carter Center Friday.

The former president urged "a peace conference" in the statement.

White House Visitor List: Court Rules Against Disclosure Of Records

WASHINGTON — A federal appeals court ruled Friday that White House visitor logs for the president and most of his staff are not public information subject to disclosure requirements of the Freedom of Information Act.

The 3-0 decision would keep the visitor records confidential for up to 12 years after President Barack Obama leaves office.

John Kerry Makes Case For Syria Strike, But Questions Linger

WASHINGTON -- Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that there was "no doubt" the Syrian regime used chemical weapons in a devastating attack last week that killed more than 1,400 people, pointing to a newly released White House intelligence report that leaves unresolved whether President Bashar Assad himself ordered the attack.

Kerry's speech made clear that the United States was preparing for strikes on Assad's government, even as the United Kingdom declined to join in the military effort.

Lessons from the oil train disaster at Lac-Mégantic

As the toxic oil from the July 6 oil train disaster in Lac Mégantic, Quebec seeps deeper into the town centre's soil and disperses into waterways, and as town residents slowly reestablish their shattered lives, the corporate interests that caused the disaster and have been keeping a low profile are beginning to assert themselves anew.

Irving Oil, the company that brought the ill-fated oil train through the town in the crazed oil-by-train scheme it launched in 2012, says it’s concerned to get the Montreal, Maine and Atlantic Railway (MM&A) fully operational again. The line is severed at the explosion site in center of the town. The railway was threatened with closure by federal transportation authorities several weeks ago for lack of insurance and then ok’d to continue provisionally. There still looms its eventual and inevitable insolvency.

Supreme Court getting an earful over the future of the upper chamber

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada is getting an earful on the future of the Senate.

The federal government has asked the high court for guidance on what it would take to reform the upper chamber — and whether it can abolish the body without provincial consultation.

The provinces and territories had until Friday afternoon to submit their views on the Senate questions.

Canadian Ministers And Chinese Defence Chief Have Hush-Hush Meeting

OTTAWA - China's defence minister made an unheralded stop in Canada last week, meeting with two Harper government ministers amid rising tensions over the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Gen. Chang Wanquan had face-to-face discussions with Defence Minister Rob Nicholson and Foreign Affairs John Baird last Thursday, says Western defence sources and Chinese media reports.

There was even a side trip to Kingston, Ont., where Chang visited the Royal Military College and the Canadian Army staff college before returning to Beijing.

NSA paying U.S. companies for access to communications networks

The National Security Agency is paying hundreds of millions of dollars a year to U.S. companies for clandestine access to their communications networks, filtering vast traffic flows for foreign targets in a process that also sweeps in large volumes of American telephone calls, e-mails and instant messages.

The bulk of the spending, detailed in a multi-volume intelligence budget obtained by The Washington Post, goes to participants in a Corporate Partner Access Project for major U.S. telecommunications providers. The documents open an important window into surveillance operations on U.S. territory that have been the subject of debate since they were revealed by The Post and Britain’s Guardian newspaper in June.

White House Keeps Congress In The Dark On Next Moves For Syria

WASHINGTON -- A Democratic congressman says that President Barack Obama has yet to make any decision on the timing or scope of a possible U.S. military intervention in Syria.

Congressman Eliot Engel of New York is the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He says administration officials told lawmakers in a conference call Thursday that they have "no doubt" that Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces used chemical weapons.

Engel says top officials provided limited evidence in the call. He says they talked about intercepted discussions and intelligence showing that Syrian forces moved weapons into position ahead of last week's attack.

Engel tells The Associated Press that the conversation focused on sharing concerns and the need to prevent the Assad regime from using chemical weapons again.

Original Article

Lawrence Wilkerson On Syria Intelligence: 'It Seems Like The Same Thing Again'

Lawrence Wilkerson, the man who reviewed the intelligence in Secretary of State Colin Powell's infamous 2003 pre-Iraq War United Nations presentation said Thursday the Obama administration's buildup for a strike on Syria "seems like the same thing again."

"So far all I've thought is I'm living through the five days at Langley again, with people telling me Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction with absolutely certainty," Wilkerson, a retired Army colonel who served as Powell's chief of staff, said in a phone interview, referring to the Obama administration's public case for action against Syria in response to a chemical weapons attack,

Scott Walker's Office Tries To Disappear Story Doubting Jobs Pledge

During his 2010 campaign, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) pledged to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the state. The promise was so central to his campaign that when a TV station recently said he appeared to be backtracking on that commitment, the news outlet reports, his office attempted to get it to take the story off its website.

The Wisconsin governor's office tried to persuade northern Wisconsin NBC affiliate WJFW to pull a Monday report with the headline, "Walker backs off campaign jobs pledge at Merrill stop." The online story said he was moving away from his promise to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his first term.

Canadian Bank Earnings Hit $7.6 Billion In Third Quarter; TD, Scotiabank Profits Slide

By the time you finish reading this, Canada's five biggest banks will have made another $555,000 in profit. That's assuming it takes you 10 minutes to go through the article; the banks are earning about $55,000 in profit, combined, per minute.

That's about $80 million a day.

Canadian Foreign Workers Fee For Musicians Could Cripple Venues

Bars and clubs across Canada have always booked domestic musicians in their venues, but American and other international acts are crucial to their viability. However, a recent change in how the federal government views those "foreign workers" has many club owners, concert promoters and booking agents wondering how they'll be able to cope with what could be anywhere from a 200 to 400 per cent increase in the cost of bringing in foreign talent from abroad.

An extensive report in the Calgary Herald explained what the changes -- which came into effect July 31 -- will mean.

Stephen Harper: Wireless Rules Don't Favour Foreign Entrants Like Verizon

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says there are no “special loopholes” in Canada’s wireless rules for large foreign companies like Verizon, wading once again into a contentious war of words between his government and the Big Three telecoms.

But Harper’s latest salvo comes even as the prospect of Verizon coming to Canada seems more remote than it has in months, as Verizon seems to be distracted by much larger negotiations than a possible entry into Canada.

British Parliament Votes Against Military Intervention In Syria

LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron lost a vote endorsing military action against Syria by 13 votes Thursday, a stunning defeat that will almost guarantee that Britain plays no direct role in any U.S. attack on Bashar Assad's government.

A grim-faced Cameron conceded after the vote that "the British Parliament, reflecting the views of the British people, does not want to see British military action."

The prime minister said that while he still believed in a "tough response" to the alleged use of chemical weapons by Assad's regime, he would respect the will of Parliament.

Canada must not join U.S. intervention in Syria

The drums of war are again beating in the West, their ominous clamour signaling U.S.-led air strikes against Syria and the Ba'athist regime of Bashar al-Assad.

Following an alleged nerve gas attack in suburban Damascus which is claimed to have killed at least 300 people -- mostly women and children -- the "red line" of U.S. President Barack Obama has been crossed. The result, despite a lack of any tangible evidence that Assad ordered the attack, is a jingoistic call to defend the human rights of the Syrian people with a 'surgical' airstrike. Curiously, such claims contradict American funding which has heretofore armed the rebels and facilitated numerous atrocities in which both parties are directly implicated.

Juan González: Growing Charter School Chain Suspends Special Needs Kids in Bid to Raise Test Scores

Democracy Now! co-host Juan González discusses his reports for the New York Daily News about how one of the New York City’s fastest-growing chains of charter schools, Success Academy, has far higher suspension rates than other public elementary schools. "More than two dozen parents have come to me complaining about their children — who are special needs, special education children, or children with behavior problems," González reports, "that they feel are being pushed out or forced out by the charter school in an effort to to improve the test scores." Success Academy uses its high test scores to attract funding, and just secured a $5 million grant it will use to expand from 20 to 100 schools. González obtained a copy of secretly recorded meetings in which school administrators pressed one parent to transfer her special education kindergarten student back into the public school system.

Author: --

Simon Fraser University Is Falling Down

Simon Fraser University's Burnaby campus is not aging well.

Leaky pipes, mould infested classrooms and offices, crumbling stairs, and cracking foundations can be found all over the 48 year old university campus, B.C.'s second largest post-secondary institution.

It's gotten so bad that last year the SFU Graduate Students Society (GSS) held the "I ♥ SFU" contest asking students to submit photos of the damage. They posted the results on a Tumblr, where you can see hundreds of pictures of rusting pipes, mouldy walls, jagged metal, and exposed wiring submitted by faculty and students.

F-35 purchase could cost Canada $71-billion under worst-case scenario: report

PARLIAMENT HILL—A worst-case scenario of cost risks in a Department of National Defence report on a possible acquisition of 65 Lockheed Martin F-35 stealth fighter jets estimates the airplanes could cost Canada up to $71-billion through acquisition, sustainment and operations over 36 years.

The costs, $25-billion more than the current National Defence estimate, are contained in a section of the department’s latest report to Parliament on the F-35 that outlines “cost risk and uncertainty” and is intended to provide a range of effects on the cost of buying and operating a fleet of stealth attack planes if factors such as inflation, the exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollar, the cost of fuel and the rate of aircraft to be produced by Lockheed Martin fluctuates either higher or lower than the estimates that are behind the current National Defence figures.

A mom beaten, a son changed

As a 10-year-old boy, Eric Robinson looked on in horror as his mother was badly beaten, a transformative event that would influence his future political career.

"Her non-aboriginal boyfriend was beating the hell out of her, hitting her like a man would hit another man in a boxing match," Robinson recalls.

"I tried to defend her and I was knocked against the wall" and lost consciousness.

The young Robinson, by then a survivor of three horrific years in a northern residential school, remembers coming to the next morning in his mother's arms.

Bank Profits Hit Record $42.2 Billion In Second Quarter

WASHINGTON -- U.S. banks earned more from April through June than during any quarter on record, aided by a steep drop in losses from bad loans.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. says the banking industry earned $42.2 billion in the second quarter, up 23 percent from the second quarter of 2012. CNNMoney additionally reported Thursday that the nation’s biggest banks are expected to hand out more in compensation in 2013 than they did in 2009 -- the final year of the recession -- including $23 billion in bonuses.

NSA 'Black Budget' Provides New Details On Surveillance Agency

WASHINGTON -- The National Security Agency on Thursday disputed a published report that secret intelligence budget files provided by agency leaker Edward Snowden show that the surveillance agency warned in 2012 that it planned to investigate up to 4,000 cases of possible internal security breaches.

The Washington Post, citing documents it said were provided by Snowden, said the NSA's concerns about insider threats were aimed at "anomalous behavior" of agency employees with access to top secret data. The account cited NSA concerns about "trusted insiders who seek to exploit their authorized access to sensitive information to harm U.S. interests."

Earnings And Employment In Canada: Garbage, Debt Collectors Among Wage Winners

Now might be the right time to get into the garbage collecting business — or the debt collecting business.

Canada’s garbage collectors, debt collectors, call centre operators and temp agency workers are among the people seeing the biggest wage hikes in the country, according to StatsCan’s latest data on payroll employment, earnings and hours.

The agency says people in the broad business sector known as “administrative and support, waste management and remediation services” saw wage hikes of more than eight per cent, on average, in the past year.

Brian Sinclair, Winnipeg Aboriginal Who Died After 34-Hour Hour Hospital Wait, Assumed 'Sleeping It Off'

WINNIPEG - A man who died during a lengthy wait in a hospital emergency room vomited on the floor during his final hours, but a security guard on duty said he assumed Brian Sinclair was intoxicated and "sleeping it off."

Alain Remillard told an inquest that a man in the waiting room at Winnipeg's Health Sciences Centre informed him that Sinclair had either thrown up or soiled himself.

The intolerable costs of nuclear power and benefits of saying no

Welcome to the nuclear renaissance.

Entergy Corp, one of the largest nuclear-power producers in the U.S., issued a surprise press release Tuesday, saying it plans "to close and decommission its Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station in Vernon, Vermont. The station is expected to cease power production after its current fuel cycle and move to safe shutdown in the fourth quarter of 2014." Although the press release came from the corporation, it was years of people's protests and state legislative action that forced its closure. At the same time that activists celebrate this key defeat of nuclear power, officials in Japan admitted that radioactive leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe are far worse than previously acknowledged.

Calls for TPP transparency grow louder at home and abroad

NDP Trade Critic Don Davies (pictured) is asking the Harper government to give MPs the same access to the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiating text as U.S. Members of Congress have. Meanwhile in Malaysia, the government is feeling increasing pressure from right- and left-wing opposition to be more forthcoming about what is being discussed behind closed doors. Even The Economist is worrying that unless the 12 negotiating countries involved in the TPP come clean, they risk alienating any possible public support for the deal when or if it is ever concluded.

"The TPP is a sweeping agreement covering issues that affect many areas of Canada's economy and society -- including several areas of policy that have never been subject to trade agreements before," said Davies in an August 28 press release. "By keeping Parliament completely in the dark on negotiations the Conservatives also leave Canadians in the dark and, for an agreement of this magnitude that is abnormal and unacceptable."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Study Finds Fracking Fluid From 2007 Kentucky Spill May Have Killed Threatened Fish Species

A joint study from the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released Wednesday found that a fracking fluid spill in Kentucky in 2007 likely caused the widespread death of several types of fish.

Nami Resources Company, a London, Ky.-based oil and gas exploration company, spilled fracking fluid from four well sites into the Acorn Fork Creek in southeastern Kentucky in May and June 2007. Not long after, nearly all the aquatic life -- including at least two fish from a threatened species -- in the part of the stream near the spill died. Chemicals released during the spill included hydrochloric acid.

Alan Grayson On Syria Strike: 'Nobody Wants This Except The Military-Industrial Complex'

WASHINGTON -- Citing his responsibility to represent the views of his constituents, Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) said Thursday that he can't support an attack on Syria that his voters strongly oppose.

"One thing that is perfectly clear to me in my district, and I think is true in many other districts from speaking to other members, is that there is no desire, no desire on the part of people to be the world's policeman," Grayson said on SiriusXM's "The Agenda with Ari Rabin-Havt," which aired Thursday morning. "For us to pick up this gauntlet even on the basis of unequivocal evidence of chemical warfare by the Syrian army, deliberately against its own people -- even if there were unequivocal evidence of that -- that's just not what people in my district want."

Eric Cantor Declined March On Washington Invitation To Meet With Oil Industry Lobby

When House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) declined to speak at the March on Washington 50th anniversary rally Wednesday, he was choosing instead to meet with a North Dakota oil and gas lobby group, The Washington Post reports.

According to the Grand Forks Herald, Cantor met with North Dakota Petroleum Council members in Watford City, toured oil drilling sites and spoke with leaders of the energy industry in Williston on Wednesday.

Edward Snowden Impersonated NSA Officials: Report

Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked information on the National Security Agency's surveillance programs, impersonated NSA officials in order to obtain files, NBC News reported Thursday.

While working for Booz Allen Hamilton, the technology consulting firm that contracted for the NSA, Snowden reportedly used his access as a system administrator to borrow the electronic identities of officials with higher security clearances via NSAnet, the agency's intranet. Snowden reportedly used the identities obtain 20,000 documents containing information on the agency's controversial programs

Nearly 20 Percent Of Scientists Contemplate Moving Overseas Due In Part To Sequestration

WASHINGTON -- New data compiled by a coalition of top scientific and medical research groups show that a large majority of scientists are receiving less federal help than they were three years ago, despite spending far more time writing grants in search of it. Nearly one-fifth of scientists are considering going overseas to continue their research because of the poor funding climate in America.

The study, which was spearheaded by the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (ASBMB) and will be formally released next week, is the latest to highlight the extent to which years of stagnant or declining budgets, made worse by sequestration, have damaged the world of science.

Three Cheers for the U.K. Parliament—and the British Public

Not before time, the public and its elected officials have taken a stand against the rush to bomb Syria—an action that could embroil the United States in a bloody civil war and lead us down a path to goodness knows where. The public in question turned out to be the British, but no matter. All popular movements have to start someplace. Now it’s up to the American people and their representatives to demand a similar pause for reflection and political debate.

What Has Changed Since Lehman Failed?

A week from Sunday, it will be five years since Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, sparking the biggest financial crisis since the nineteen-thirties and a seven-hundred-billion-dollar bank bailout. In a recent interview with Andrew Ross Sorkin, of the Times and CNBC, Hank Paulson, the man who, as Treasury Secretary, was primarily responsible for the rescue of Wall Street, expressed outrage—or at least misgivings—about the fact that many of the bankers whom the taxpayers rescued promptly turned around and gave themselves huge bonuses. “To say I was disappointed is an understatement,” Paulson said. “My view has nothing to do with legality and everything to do with what was right, and everything to do with just a colossal lack of self-awareness as to how they were viewed by the American public.”

Why Obama's March on Washington Anniversary Speech Ticked Off Some Black People

In May, President Barack Obama gave a commencement address at the historically black Morehouse College—Martin Luther King, Jr.'s alma mater—that was criticized by many black progressives as condescending for its focus on personal responsibility. He told the young graduates that "there's no longer any room for excuses" and that "whatever hardships you may experience because of your race, they pale in comparison to the hardships previous generations endured—and overcame." In response, The Atlantic's Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote, "Barack Obama is, indeed, the president of 'all America,' but he also is singularly the scold of 'black America.'"

John McAfee, Anti-Virus Software Mogul: Canada Not Safe From Government Spying

MONTRÉAL - American software mogul John McAfee appears relaxed at a downtown restaurant as he digs into a bowl of poutine, but says even the safe haven of Canada isn't immune from government spying.

"Your Canadian government has all of the facilities that the American government has, no more, no less," he says, in light of recent leaks by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

Israeli Official Says Government Orders 'Limited' Call-Up Of Reservists In Anticipation Of Possible Attack By Syria

JERUSALEM — Israel ordered a special call-up of reserve troops Wednesday as nervous citizens lined up at gas-mask distribution centers, preparing for possible hostilities with Syria.

With the U.S. threatening to attack Syria over its alleged use of chemical weapons, Israel fears that Syria may respond by firing missiles at Israel, a close American ally. While Israeli officials sought to distance themselves from Syria's standoff with the West and believe the chances of a Syrian strike remain slim, people were clearly preparing for the possibility.

'Disappearing Palestine' Ads On TransLink Anger Jewish Groups

VANCOUVER - A controversial ad campaign on Vancouver's transit system showing the territory of Palestine shrinking into the state of Israel will run in other Canadian cities this fall, says the coalition behind the images.

"We do know that in other Canadian cities, for example in Toronto and in Calgary, there will be ads" running sometime this fall sponsored by advocates in those cities, said Charlotte Kates, a spokeswoman for seven Vancouver-based groups calling themselves the Palestine Awareness Coalition.

Steve King Compares Unemployed Americans To Children Who Refuse To Do Chores

During a Monday appearance in South Carolina, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) voiced his displeasure with the "100 million people [who are] "simply not in the workforce," calling on unemployed Americans to "step up."

(Watch a video of Rep. King's remarks, originally posted by Raw Story, above)

At a meeting in Charleston organized by Mallory Factor, King attributed rampant unemployment to many Americans' unwillingness to work, drawing an analogy between the unemployed and lazy children, according to Red Alert Politics.

Robocalls investigator ‘suspected that others were involved’, document alleges

An Elections Canada investigator alleges in court documents that he suspected Conservative campaign worker Michael Sona was not the only person involved in misleading robocalls to voters in Guelph, Ont.

Sona, who worked as director of communications to Marty Burke, the Conservative candidate in Guelph, is the only person charged over automated calls that directed hundreds of voters to the wrong polling station on election day in May 2011.

His defence counsel is expected in court Thursday morning in Guelph for a pretrial hearing.

New Alberta Pipeline Safety Review Demanded By Coalition Of 54 Groups

CALGARY - Calls mounted Wednesday for Alberta's auditor general to review pipeline safety in the province as a coalition of 54 public interest groups demanded Premier Alison Redford bring in the provincial watchdog.

The organizations were also critical of a report last week that found room for improvement when it comes to regulating pipelines near water, but took a generally favourable view of Alberta's existing rules.

Neocons Push Obama to Go Beyond a Punitive Strike in Syria

The drums of war are beating, as various news reports state that President Barack Obama and his European allies are close to launching some sort of military attack against Syria. But one question is how big the bang will be. The White House has signaled that whatever comes will be strictly a punitive strike in retaliation for the Assad regime's presumed use of chemical weapons against civilians. It will not be an action aimed at toppling Bashar al-Assad or changing the overall strategic dynamic of the ongoing civil war in Syria. The supposed goal is to deter Assad from resorting to chemical weapons again. Foreign policy experts disagree—of course—on whether any assault of this nature would achieve that end, and such an action could have unintended consequences (say, a host of dead civilians) that might render it not a clear-cut success. But the band of neocons that led the United States into the Iraq War have quickly moved to seize on the administration's inclination to mount a punitive strike in order to draw the nation further into the conflict in Syria.

Black Parents Need to Get It Together, Says Former Tea Party Congressman Sued Over Child Support

Wednesday is the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, an event organized by a badass gay activist and keynoted by Martin Luther King Jr.'s (copyrighted) "I Have a Dream" speech. It's a time for reflection on where the United States has been and where it's headed.

Unless you're former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.).

Walsh, a tea partier elected in the conservative wave of 2010, has reinvented himself as a talk radio host after getting trounced last fall by Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth. On Wednesday, Walsh celebrated King's legacy by drafting a list of problems he believes afflict African Americans, such as an unwillingness to take responsibility for their own lives, and a total dependency on "the government plantation":

Free Abortions on Demand Without Apology

When did so many feminists get polite on abortion? I cannot take hearing another pundit insist that only a small percentage of Planned Parenthood’s work is providing abortions or that some women need birth control for “medical” reasons. Tiptoeing around the issue is exhausting, and it’s certainly not doing women any favors.

It’s time resuscitate the old rallying cry for “free abortions on demand without apology.” It may not be a popular message but it’s absolutely necessary. After all, the opposition doesn’t have nearly as many caveats. They’re fighting for earlier and earlier bans on abortions, pushing for no exceptions for rape and incest, fighting against birth control coverage—even insisting that they have the right to threaten abortion providers. The all-out strategy is working; since 2010, more than fifty abortion clinics have stopped providing services.

Shouting Disrupts Vigil For Murdered Transgender Woman Islan Nettles

NEW YORK -- On Tuesday night, hundreds turned out for a vigil in honor of Islan Nettles, a 21-year-old transgender woman who died after an attack just blocks from the park where family, friends and LGBT advocates gathered in her memory.

Nettles, who was pursuing a career in fashion, was walking Aug. 17 with a transgender friend when they encountered several men who shouted transphobic and homophobic slurs, and beat them. Nettles died in the hospital several days later. The police are currently investigating the case as a hate crime, according to The New York Times.

For The First Time Ever, Combined GDP Of Poor Countries Exceeds That Of Rich Ones


For the first time ever, the combined gross domestic product of emerging and developing markets, adjusted for purchasing price parity, has eclipsed the combined measure of advanced economies. Purchasing price parity—or PPP for short—adjusts for the relative cost of comparable goods in different economic markets.

Ask Congress About Syria

Whom should President Obama ask before he bombs Syria? One of the answers being bandied about is nobody but his own conscience, and some generals who will tell him how to do it. An Op-Ed in today’s Times tells him not to mind various laws and treaties, or rather the lack of applicable ones. Maybe the awful pictures from Ghouta are telling him the same thing; not getting anyone outside White House meeting rooms, or at the other end of a secure phone line, to put his or her name down might be natural, even instinctive, but it is not what the moment demands. There have been calls for the President to reconvene Congress and put this one before them, and such calls are right. It might even help the Administration figure out what, exactly, it hopes to accomplish by shooting missiles in the general direction of Damascus.

Court dismisses First Nations challenge against Canada-China FIPA

A British Columbia First Nation's challenge against the Canada-China Foreign Investment Protection Agreement (FIPA) has been dismissed by the federal court.

The Hupacasath First Nation says the federal government failed to meet its constitutional duty to consult with the community before signing the trade agreement and that the FIPA is a violation of their rights to self government.

NYPD Secretly Designated Entire Mosques As Terrorism Organizations

NEW YORK -- The New York Police Department has secretly labeled entire mosques as terrorist organizations, a designation that allows police to use informants to record sermons and spy on imams, often without specific evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

Designating an entire mosque as a terrorism enterprise means that anyone who attends prayer services there is a potential subject of an investigation and fair game for surveillance.

Since the 9/11 attacks, the NYPD has opened at least a dozen "terrorism enterprise investigations" into mosques, according to interviews and confidential police documents. The TEI, as it is known, is a police tool intended to help investigate terrorist cells and the like.

Obama: Syrian Government Behind Chemical Weapons Attack, No Decision On Action

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama on Wednesday declared unequivocally that the United States has "concluded" that the Syrian government carried out a deadly chemical weapons attack on civilians. Yet U.S. intelligence officials say questions remain about whether the attack could be linked to Syrian President Bashar Assad or high officials in his government.

Stephen Harper’s lone gunman defence wobbles

OTTAWA—In his bid to survive the Nigel Wright-Mike Duffy affair, Stephen Harper has clung assiduously to the lone gunman theory.

Harper has repeated that mantra time and again — his former chief of staff cut a $90,000 cheque to the disgraced former Conservative senator on his own, without the prime minister’s knowledge.

The best way to destabilize the Harper argument is to involve as many others players as possible, making it appear to be a conspiracy in the Prime Minister’s Office and beyond, making it increasingly impossible for Canadians to believe this elaborate operation could have unfolded without Harper knowing what was happening in his own office.

Harper seeks to blame Indigenous women for their own disappearance

Canada's shameful colonial history as it relates to Indigenous peoples and women specifically is not well known by the public at large. The most horrific of Canada's abuses against Indigenous peoples are not taught in schools. Even public discussion around issues like genocide have been censored by successive federal governments, and most notably by Harper's Conservatives. Recently, the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights refused to use the term "genocide" to describe Canada's laws, policies and actions towards Indigenous peoples which led to millions of deaths. The reason?: because that term was not acceptable to the federal government and the museum is after all, a Crown corporation.

When did supporting the troops become synonymous with liking hockey?

There was a time when the idea of military pomp at a Canadian sporting event would have seemed absurdly out of place -- that was an American thing. Oh, how the times have changed.

These days, when you settle in to watch the Jets beat the Leafs on Saturday night, you do so understanding that there will almost inevitably be some kind of military spectacle on display. Maybe soldiers will rappel from the rafters to thunderous applause. Maybe there will be a moment of silence for our fallen heroes. Maybe Don Cherry will take us on an unscheduled trip to Kandahar in a jocular salute to the boys who are maintaining their team loyalties even while they keep us safe over there.

But wait -- over where? Keeping us safe from whom? Doesn't it matter?