Democracy Gone Astray

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

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

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

Monday, April 22, 2013

West-to-east pipelines are all about exports and corporate profits, not energy security

For years I was a voice in the wilderness calling for an oil pipeline to bring western oil to Eastern Canada. Now that TransCanada and Enbridge each have plans to build one, I should be pleased. But I'm not.

Canada is in the absurd position of promising the U.S. oil security through the export of oil from Alberta, while Canada itself is the most oil insecure country in the global North.

While Canada exports two-thirds of its oil -- 99 per cent of that to the U.S. -- Quebec and Atlantic Canada rely overwhelmingly on oil imports, half of that from the volatile Middle East. Unlike all other member countries in the International Energy Agency, Canada has no strategic petroleum reserves to use when the next international oil supply crisis strikes.

World Bank Sets 'Expiration Date' For Extreme Poverty

WASHINGTON, April 20 (Reuters) - Global finance officials endorsed a new World Bank goal to end extreme global poverty by 2030 and emphasized that its focus should be on ensuring that the poorest benefit from strong growth and rising prosperity in developing nations.

"For the first time in history we have committed to setting a target to end poverty," World Bank President Jim Yong Kim said on Saturday following a meeting of the World Bank's Development Committee. "We are no longer dreaming of a world free of poverty; we have set an expiration date for extreme poverty," he added.

The C.I.A.: A National Liability?

The errant actions of the C.I.A. are by now so evident that they are a staple of Washington conversation. Like the weather, though, it is the topic everybody talks about, but does nothing about. The drone revelations, and the administration's stonewalling, that coincided with John Brennan's confirmation hearings created a stir. That incident struck a nerve because the White House looked ready to extend its claim to a right to kill Americans abroad to the domestic scene. The prospect of moves to bring the Agency to heal quickly died down once he made a vague promise to downsize the drone program. Moreover, no elected official voiced concern about the implications of killing lots of foreigners -- even innocent civilians -- as we are doing routinely in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Chris Nogy, Arkansas Republican, Floats Idea Of Shooting Lawmakers

Chris Nogy, the husband of a Republican Party official in Arkansas, suggested it was a shame that voters couldn't just threaten to shoot GOP state legislators who voted for the state's Medicaid expansion.

In an essay titled "Scathing" in the April edition of the Benton County Republican Party newsletter, Nogy slammed those Republican lawmakers who voted last week to approve Medicaid expansion and argued that the Second Amendment offered one way to handle the situation:

    The 2nd amendment means nothing unless those in power believe you would have no problem simply walking up and shooting them if they got too far out of line and stopped responding as representatives. It seems that we are unable to muster that belief in any of our representatives on a state or federal level, but we have to have something, something costly, something that they will fear that we will use if they step out of line. If we can’t shoot them, we have to at least be firm in our threat to take immediate action against them politically, socially, and civically if they screw up on something this big. Personally, I think a gun is quicker and more merciful, but hey, we can't. But we have to do something, we have to gain control of our representatives, if we don’t then what the hell are we doing as a party except having fundraiser dinners and meetings just to raise more money for future meetings and fundraisers, and giving money to empower and elect those who would betray us without having the control to keep them in line once we do? See the pattern -- you have to know you can guide the processes you begin, if you don't, it is better not to start them. And we have to follow through, even if they are our 'friends', because the future of the nation depends on it.

Free-Market Economics Supporters Less Like To Believe In Science: Study

Those who believe in a popular conservative economic theory are also more likely to not believe in science, according to a recent study.

People who endorse free-market economics -- an economic theory, which argues the markets regulate themselves and work better without too much government intervention -- are more likely to deny climate change, according to a study published last month in Psychological Science.

CISPA Amendment Banning Employers From Asking For Facebook Passwords Blocked

Bad news, Facebook users. U.S. employers may soon be able to require employees to fork over their social media passwords.

A last-minute amendment to the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act -- known as CISPA -- banning such a practice was blocked by members of the U.S. House of Representatives, despite the passage of the broad cybersecurity bill overall.

The provision, proposed by Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Co.), was voted down 224-189, with Republicans constituting the majority.

California Water Projects: State Failed To Spend Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars

FRESNO, Calif. — California has failed to spend $455 million of federal money meant to improve water infrastructure in the state, while thousands of people rely on groundwater laced with nitrates and other contaminants, federal regulators said Friday.

The state has received more than $1.5 billion for its Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund over the past 15 years, but has failed to spend a large part of it in a timely manner, according to a noncompliance letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the state's public health department. The amount is the program's largest unspent sum in the nation, the EPA said.

Poll Finds Americans Less Concerned About The Environment Now Than When Earth Day Began

Americans place less importance on environmental issues than they did in 1971, a year after Earth Day was established, according to a new HuffPost/YouGov poll. But the poll also finds that more Americans are taking some steps to protect the environment, such as cutting down on electricity use, eating organic foods and recycling.

For Earth Day this year, The Huffington Post and its polling partner YouGov assessed how environmental attitudes and behaviors have changed since the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970 by repeating questions that were originally asked on two 1971 surveys.

Will the "Koch Brothers Bill" Make Industrial Accidents More Likely?

Last Wednesday's explosion at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, which left at least 15 people dead and more than 100 injured, was made possible by an ultra-lax state and federal oversight climate that make inspections of such facilities all but a rubber-stamp process—when they even happen. If the chemical lobby and its allies in Congress get their way, a regulatory process dismissed by environmental activists and labor unions as extremely weak would be watered down even more.

Obama set to okay pipeline, former insider says, as poll shows support

Barack Obama will almost certainly approve the Keystone XL pipeline, predicts a former senior figure in the State Department who recently brought that message to Ottawa.

“I would say the chances are about four-to-one” in favour of the President approving the pipeline from Alberta to American refineries, said David Gordon. He was director of policy planning when Condoleezza Rice was secretary of state, and is currently head of research at the respected consulting firm Eurasia Group.

Boston overkill: Did Obama go too far?

Like everyone, I’m relieved the Boston bombers were stopped in their tracks and grateful to the authorities who worked together to bring the crisis to a quick end.

Nevertheless, the scale of the response sets a very troubling precedent. It not only raises unrealistic expectations for the future, it sends the wrong message to terrorists. We need to ask some hard questions about where this is taking us and how to deal with such events in the future.

Enbridge donations flow to municipalities along pipeline 9B

MONTREAL — The town of Mirabel got $10,000, and put it toward the cost of a generator for its fire department. Belleville, Ont., got $25,000 to turn a city bus into a mobile emergency command centre. And just two weeks ago, Vaudreuil-Dorion got $20,000 for new hazardous material and communications equipment for its fire department.

What do these towns have in common?

They are all on or near the route of Enbridge’s 9B oil pipeline, and just as the company is seeking approval for its controversial project to reverse and substantially increase the flow of crude oil through the pipeline, it has given these and other towns sizable donations.

Stop importing temporary workers into Canada

You are in Dubai or any other city in the oil-rich Arabian/Persian Gulf region. It is blistering hot. The only human beings you see are on construction sites. They are the people brought in under the local version of the temporary foreign workers program, mostly from low-wage Third World nations. At the end of their shift, they go to bunk in the temporary accommodations they share with other workers. They have no families — they are not allowed to bring any. At the end of their temporary visa, they must go home. If they don’t, they are picked up in periodic crackdowns and put on planes. When they get back home, they often find that their families, especially their children, are estranged from them.

Relocation contract would not have gone to trial if bureaucrats had told the truth: judge

OTTAWA — Former auditor general Sheila Fraser’s report could have stopped the relocation contract dispute from escalating into a trial that will cost Canadian taxpayers more than $30 million to compensate a losing bidder if bureaucrats had told the truth during an earlier investigation, said the judge who presided over the trial.

“The importance of the Office of the Auditor-General in this matter cannot be underestimated. If the whole story had been told... my sense is that this matter might not have reached the courts, except perhaps on issues of damages,” wrote Ontario Superior Court Justice Peter Annis in his ruling.

Maybe Trudeau isn’t the one in over his head

As we wait to see if the PM will appoint his gardener to run the RCMP, or his hairstylist to take the wheel at the National Energy Board, there is no drama about one thing: The crude assault on Justin Trudeau will go on until the next federal election — or until the Conservatives come to their senses.

A piece in iPolitics by my colleague Elizabeth Thompson suggests that the Tories’ instant attack ad against Trudeau after his leadership victory was a world class belly-flop. You know something has backfired when the person you “attacked” uses the ad to raise pots of money to fight you. About all the Tories have accomplished is to make themselves less popular and foster the fervent hope that James Moore won’t be taking off his shirt in public to aid his favourite charity any time soon.

Star obtains documents outlining federal objectives for meeting with aboriginal leaders

OTTAWA—The Conservative government went into its January meeting with aboriginal leaders against the backdrop of the Idle No More movement planning to focus on how the treaty relationship affects economic development, according to newly released documents.

Secret briefing memos prepared for top officials at the Aboriginal Affairs department who attended the Jan. 11 meeting between Prime Minister Stephen Harper, cabinet ministers and a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations reveals the sometimes stark contrast between how the federal government and aboriginal leaders approached the issues on the table.

Justin Trudeau digs deep on terrorism, Harper draws a cartoon

I am hard-wired to dislike extremist conservatives, can’t help it, born that way, and then Stephen Harper got his majority. I do love a Red Tory — conservative but humane — but they are said to be extinct in these parts.

“Oh look, I see one!”

“No, that’s a red-tailed hawk,” says the resident birder. “Red Tories have a white underbelly and a red-brick crown that rivals that of the vermilion flycatcher. You know one when you see one.”

I do not see them.

Conservatives playing politics with anti-terror bill

OTTAWA—As we continue to digest the nightmare that played out in Boston last week, it would appear timely to have our parliamentarians come together in the House of Commons to debate an anti-terrorism bill.

This country, as well, is grappling with its own concerns over homegrown terrorism with the revelation that four young men from London, Ont., were radicalized and at least two of them participated and died in the gas plant siege in Algeria last January.

Let’s call attack ads what they are: mass cyber-bullying

For Justin Trudeau, it’s the risk on which “I’m gambling my entire career.” Another recently minted leader, Liberal Brian Gallant in New Brunswick, wants to “make sure that politics is about inclusivity, it’s about accountability, it’s about civility, less patronage. . . .”

Politicians attempting to rise above the fray are rare these days. Just suggesting it usually gets them laughed off for naïveté, as if politics can only be practised by cynical manipulators.

Ruling on alleged breach of Warawa’s privilege to speak freely could head off Tory rebellion

The Speaker of the House of Commons is expected to rule Monday in the case of a Conservative MP who claims his privilege to speak freely has been breached, after the Tory whip removed him from the roster of members allowed to make statements before Question Period.

Andrew Scheer, the rookie Speaker, will decide on whether a prima facie breach of privilege took place when Mark Warawa was struck from the list because he intended to raise the issue of sex selective abortion, a debate which the Harper government has refused to re-open.

Bombs in Boston, amnesia in America

I spent Friday evening flipping between TV news networks and social media; a voyeur to the dramatic last chapter of the "manhunt" for the surviving suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings.

That's right, I spent Friday night watching the news. I'm a nerd.

Boston was locked down; its streets ghost town empty, its residents behind bolted doors, obeying a "shelter in place" order.

Is Chuck Strahl's dual role on the Manning Centre and SIRC appropriate?

Should Chuck Strahl be able to serve simultaneously on the board of the Manning Centre for Building Democracy, a partisan political organization tied to the ruling Conservative Party of Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other provincial conservative parties, and on the apolitical Security Intelligence Review Committee?

The SIRC is supposed to be, in the words of its website, "an independent, external review body which reports to the Parliament of Canada on the operations of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service."

"Parliament has given CSIS extraordinary powers to intrude on the privacy of individuals," the website explains. "SIRC ensures that these powers are used legally and appropriately, in order to protect Canadians' rights and freedoms."

See 'Whipped,' Sean Holman's Expose on Slavish Politicians

Why don't members of the provincial legislature vote according to what their consciences -- or constituents -- tell them, rather than what their party leaders demand of them? That's the fascinating focus of a new documentary by Sean Holman, who spent years covering B.C. politics before making Whipped: The Secret World of Party Discipline. (You can watch a trailer for the film at the top of this story.)

The Tyee is co-sponsoring the premiere of the just finished film this Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at UBC (details further down). The event, hosted by UBC's Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions, includes a panel discussion featuring former MLAs Gordon Gibson, Harold Steves and Olga Ilich, as well as the documentary's director Sean Holman. I'll be moderating.

Election Law 'Chilling' Groups Wanting to Share Info

For four years Judy Wigmore in Kamloops has run the Pesticide Free BC website to share information on an important issue she thinks people should know about. Now she feels forced to make it unavailable until the provincial election is over, her free speech stifled.

"I think people should be able to go to a website like mine and make their own conclusions," Wigmore said in a phone interview not long after the writs were issued to start the official election campaign. "To me it's wrong that individuals' efforts are silenced."

She's among many people and organizations across the province trying to figure out how election advertising laws affect them. Breaking those laws can result in a $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail, putting a deep chill on what people can say during the campaign.

Opinion All Hail Justin, You Know, I Mean, Trudeau

There is no accounting for political judgment when it gets caught up in irrational euphoria. The overwhelming victory of Justin Trudeau in the Liberal Party's leadership race demonstrates just how impoverished the state of our political culture has become. Did the polls -- almost completely meaningless at this stage of the political process -- so addle people's discernment that they could not see what was in front of them? In a stunning failure of imagination 80 per cent of those casting ballots effectively declared: We think a pretty face and a famous name is all we need to win and more importantly, all the country needs to lead it.
Justin Trudeau is allegedly 40 years-old, but his persona is one of a perpetual adolescent who can't be taken seriously, because he doesn't take the world seriously. He's spent his life avoiding anything truly challenging and seems addicted to having a good time -- to the exclusion of disciplined political work. His intellectual capacity, whatever it was, is now so atrophied that it seems clear he rarely engages on his own in serious analysis or thoughtful consideration of important political and philosophical questions.

Lufthansa cancels most flights over 1-day strike

Ground staff at Lufthansa, Germany's biggest airline, have walked off the job on a one-day strike that prompted the company to cancel most of the today's scheduled flights and left it complaining of "excessive" union tactics.

The strike by airline technicians and service personnel across Germany started in the early hours. Lufthansa moved in advance to head off chaos, announcing on Saturday that it was cancelling almost all scheduled short-haul flights and the majority of long-haul services.

Blue Jays fans ejected from Rogers Centre on word of Yankees’ security guards

Security at the Rogers Centre isn’t good enough for the New York Yankees, it seems, as a couple Blue Jays fans found out the hard way on Friday night.

Security guards employed by the Yankees, who travelled with the team to Toronto this weekend, pointed out and requested the ejection of a pair of Jays fans who had heckled the Yankee bullpen, according to a ticket holder in the section, who says Toronto police and Rogers Centre security complied with the request from the Yankee muscle.

Integrated Prom shines racism spotlight on southern Georgia county

ROCHELLE, GEORGIA—Here in this woebegone stretch of southern Georgia, there’s at least one thing the two solitudes agree on: to walk in Wilcox County is to walk back in time.

For many of the white folks of Rochelle and the four other hamlets dotting the county, that means mostly good things. An Andy of Mayberry existence straight out of the 1950s, with the kids, the grandparents and the church all just a few steps away. Tradition is a word much revered.

Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan ordered to return danger pay

OTTAWA — Canadian soldiers in northern Afghanistan are being forced to return danger pay they had previously been awarded, the Citizen has learned.

The troops, training the Afghan military in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, are required to pay back the government between $900 and $1,600 each, depending on the individual’s pay.

Tory backbenchers voice support for a House committee to better protect MPs’ freedom, powers in Commons

Some unusually outspoken government backbenchers, who want more freedom to speak in the House, say Prime Minister Stephen Harper hasn’t established a Conservative caucus subcommittee to air complaints from disgruntled Tories, but they wouldn’t mind seeing a House committee look at their Parliamentary privilege and rewrite the rules to better protect all MPs from their own political parties in the House.

So far, 10 Conservative backbenchers have publicly voiced their concerns about their party’s control over members’ statements to date, and Conservative MP Kyle Seeback (Brampton West, Ont.) says he “would love to see” a Parliamentary committee formed for all Parliamentarians to discuss their concerns over their Parliamentary privileges and to try to find solutions.

Opposition MPs say feds must table robocalls legislation ‘well before’ next election

The federal government backed off from tabling legislation to stop fraudulent robocolls to deceive voters in elections because of an unspecified problem with the bill at the last minute last week, but opposition MPs say time is running short and new electoral laws need to be brought in “well before”  the next election.

“We need to be sure that not only we’ll have the bill for the next election, but the implementation of the act, full implementation before the next election. That’s very key,” said Liberal MP Stéphane Dion (Saint Laurent-Cartierville, Que.), his party’s democratic reform critic.      The highly-anticipated legislation is a response to an NDP opposition motion that unanimously passed in the House on March 12 last year. It called on the government to strengthen Elections Canada’s investigation capabilities by giving the chief electoral officer “the power to request all necessary documents from political parties to ensure compliance with the Elections Act” and force telecom companies that provide political parties with voter contact services during an election to register with Elections Canada in addition to registering and verifying the clients of these companies. It also called on the government to table the amendments within six months.

Conservatives mark Earth Day, open public access to oilsands monitoring data

OTTAWA - The federal Conservatives have decided to mark Earth Day this year, launching a long-promised portal for public access to sensitive environmental data from the oilsands.

Federal Environment Minister Peter Kent and his Alberta counterpart Diana McQueen will be at Carleton University in Ottawa on Monday to flick the switch and allow public scrutiny of new research measuring the quality and quantity of the land, air and water in the Athabasca region.

National media splash silenced on eve of gun registry data destruction

OTTAWA - Public servants spent a full month, at the "urgent" request of Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, preparing two splashy announcements heralding the destruction of the long-gun registry data — only to have the events cancelled at the last moment without explanation.

The final deletion of millions of registry records last October 31 could be seen as a crowning achievement for a Conservative government that had campaigned against the registry for more than a decade.

Canada must have 'broader discussion' about missile defence: Toews

As North Korea’s nuclear threats against North America continue to intensify, Canada’s Public Safety Minister says the government must have a ‘broader discussion’ about missile defence.

CTV News has learned from U.S. sources that in light of ongoing threats from North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the U.S. has asked Canada to participate in an anti-ballistic missile shield.

PSAC ads attacking Conservatives serve as “wake-up call”

It’s shocking and aggressive, but the ad attacking the Conservatives over cuts to the environment is supposed to serve as a wake-up call to Canadians, says the regional executive vice president of the Public Service Alliance of Canada behind the ad.

“There’s a shock effect to it,” Larry Rousseau said in an interview on the Global News program The West block with Tom Clark.

An insincere apology

It hurts people to think so -- and I truly regret if it hurts anyone for me to say so here -- but the Prime Minister’s apology for residential schools was, at best, insincere. That is the kindest word I can find.

More likely he was lying. Or, he didn’t understand the words he wrote. Or, worse yet, he meant them in a very specific way. But certainly, he was insincere.

Conservative Koch Brothers Turning Focus to Newspapers

Three years ago, Charles and David Koch, the billionaire industrialists and supporters of libertarian causes, held a seminar of like-minded, wealthy political donors at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen, Colo. They laid out a three-pronged, 10-year strategy to shift the country toward a smaller government with less regulation and taxes.

The first two pieces of the strategy — educating grass-roots activists and influencing politics — were not surprising, given the money they have given to policy institutes and political action groups. But the third one was: media.

Canada Housing Crash Could Take Economy Down With It, Analyst Says

Canada's housing market is falling in the country's major cities and it could very well drag the economy down with it, a prominent housing analyst said on Thursday.

Ben Rabidoux, an analyst and strategist with U.S. research firm Hanson Advisors, told a packed house at The World MoneyShow in Vancouver that the economy is in for a rough landing because of its dependence on a slumping housing market.

The new Tim Hudak heads back to the future, embracing his inner Harris

Meet the new Tim Hudak.

Never mind the Tory leader you saw in the last provincial election, when he blew a big lead and gave the Liberals another term in power. Next time — which could be any time if the minority government falls over its spring budget — Hudak vows to give voters a clearer choice.

But the new, improved Hudak will not try to pass himself off as a kinder, gentler, New Age Tory. Instead, he is going back to the future — to an era many Progressive Conservatives spent the past decade trying to distance themselves from: Welcome back to a more muscular, straight-shooting, no-nonsense tone perfected by one of his more successful political mentors.

Canada's heart will go on ... and on: Justin Trudeau's national vision

When Justin Trudeau, back in October of last year, began his campaign to lead the once great, once natural governing party of Canada, the Liberal Party, he did so with a vision statement that is worth returning to, now that he is the party's leader, if we wish to really understand what he represents in our politics.

Easy to deride in parts, it began with some genuine groaners such as:

    So I’m here to ask for your help, because this road will be one long, Canadian highway. We will have ups and downs. Breathtaking vistas and a few boring stretches. And with winter coming, icy patches.

    But we will match the size of this challenge with hard, honest work.

    Because hard work is what’s required. Always has been.

The Annals of Digital Recording: 'Preston is out of the country and cannot comment'

Is somebody going around trying to pull a Mitt Romney on Preston Manning and the boys.

Romney, alert readers will recall, was the U.S. Republican presidential candidate who not so long ago was captured in a digital recording telling a bunch of well-wishers that, oh, about 47 per cent of the American population is made up of lazy bums so dependent on government handouts they're willing to do anything -- even vote for Barack Obama -- to stay that way!

If you enjoy playing Clue, you'll appreciate the irony that it was the Bartender, in the Dining Room, with a Cellphone, who did in Romney.

U of T students call for renewal of Canada Health Accord in 2014

At a press conference Tuesday afternoon, five University of Toronto students in conjunction with the Ontario Health Coalition released their report on the future of public medicare in Canada.

Janice Chan, Richard Jeysman, Linda Lu, Jacquie Lu and Jutara Thangamornrart are students in the University of Toronto Health Studies program.

“In reality, federal spending power and the Act enable Canada’s government to effectively set national standards for health care across Canada,” said the report.

Harper 'disembowelled' budget for science on North Gateway: former DFO officer

VANCOUVER - While Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the fate of Enbridge's proposed pipeline from the Alberta oilsands to tankers on the British Columbia coast will be based on science and not politics, documents show some of that science isn't forthcoming.

And critics say there is no time for the science to be completed before a federal deadline for the environmental assessment currently underway.

Documents filed with the National Energy Board show the environmental review panel studying the Northern Gateway project asked Fisheries and Oceans Canada for risk assessments for the bodies of water the proposed pipeline will cross. The pipeline is to traverse nearly 1,000 streams and rivers in the upper Fraser, Skeena and Kitimat watersheds.

Oilpatch greenhouse gases rise while most other sectors decrease, level-off emissions

Canada's annual heat-trapping greenhouse gases continue to level off or decline in most sectors of the economy, outside of Alberta's oilpatch, says the latest annual inventory report submitted by the Harper government to the United Nations.

The submission, which covers annual emissions across the Canadian economy from 2011, revealed a 0.14 per cent increase in emissions to about 702 million tonnes. But the levels remain about five per cent below 2005 levels, due to structural changes in the Canadian economy that is moving from producing goods to providing services, as well as some federal and provincial policies, the report said.

West Fertilizer Co. Failed To Disclose It Had Unsafe Stores Of Explosive Substance

NEW YORK, April 20 (Reuters) - The fertilizer plant that exploded on Wednesday, obliterating part of a small Texas town and killing at least 14 people, had last year been storing 1,350 times the amount of ammonium nitrate that would normally trigger safety oversight by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Yet a person familiar with DHS operations said the company that owns the plant, West Fertilizer, did not tell the agency about the potentially explosive fertilizer as it is required to do, leaving one of the principal regulators of ammonium nitrate - which can also be used in bomb making - unaware of any danger there.

Trudeau on Terrorism: A Sane Voice in Politics

How dare he?!"

That is how a feeble-minded reactionary Ice Tea Party member recoils after hearing Liberal Party Leader Justin Trudeau's comment on the Boston Bombing -- a question he was asked just two hours after the blast.

When an act of terror occurs, it takes time to assess what exactly happened. Two hours after the blast, blood was still being spilled, explosives were still being sniffed out, and loved ones were still being contacted to share the terrible news.

Marijuana Prohibition Now Costs The Government $20 Billion A Year: Economist

NEW YORK -- Marijuana prohibition now costs state and federal government as much as $20 billion a year, an economist told The Huffington Post -- and legalization efforts are only just beginning to chip away at that.

That number comes from Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer at Harvard University who in 2010 studied the likely impacts of drug legalization, finding that about $8.7 billion would be saved on law enforcement and another $8.7 billion would be generated from taxes on marijuana. Accounting for inflation, that would add up to about $20 billion now, he said.

Boston bombing suspect was under FBI surveillance, says mother

One of the two men suspected of being behind the Boston Marathon bombings was under FBI surveillance as a suspected "extremist" for at least three years, according to his parents.

As questions were raised about how well known Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were to federal investigators, their mother, Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, said that the FBI had spoken to the family regularly: "They were telling me that Tamerlan was really an extremist leader and they were afraid of him. They told me whatever information he is getting, he gets from these extremists' sites." She added that the police were monitoring her son "at every step".

Stephen Lawrence Anniversary: Fight Against 'Cancer' Of Racism Continues, Archbishop Says

The fight against the "invidious and devastating cancer" of racism, 20 years after the murder of Stephen Lawrence, must be continued, the Archbishop of York said on Saturday.

Dr John Sentamu, in his former role as Bishop of Stepney, played a major role in the campaign for justice alongside the Lawrence family and the inquiry into what went wrong.

The high-ranking cleric wrote in the Yorkshire Post how Mr Lawrence could now be a successful 38-year-old architect with a wife and family, loved and respected, had he not been victim of an unprovoked, racist murder by a gang of white youths in Eltham, south London on April 22 1993.

Benefit Reform 'Will Push More Children Into Poverty' Says Bishop Paul Butler Of Nottingham

A bishop has spoken of his "deep concern" over plans to change the benefits system, warning they will push more children into poverty and saying that "children suffering now creates very long term problems for us all."

Speaking at a meeting of the Diocesan Synod, the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham said parents needed to work to lift their children out of poverty but it was just as important for them to be able to spend time with their offspring.

George Osborne Under Pressure From IMF Over Austerity After Turbulent Week For Chancellor

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has stepped up pressure on Chancellor George Osborne to consider easing his austerity programme. David Lipton, the Fund's first deputy managing director, said the "pace of consolidation" should be reconsidered given the weakness of the UK economy.

It is a fresh blow for Osborne in what has been a turbulent few days. Earlier this week the IMF cut the UK's growth forecast growth from 1% to 0.7% this year and 2014's projection from 1.9% to 1.5%, noting the recovery was "progressing slowly".

The Culprits

In the midst of the Second World War, Joseph Stalin, seized by one of his historic fits of paranoia and cruelty, declared the Chechen people disloyal to the U.S.S.R. and banished them from their homeland in the northern Caucasus to Central Asia and the Siberian wastes. Tens of thousands of Chechens, along with members of other small ethnic groups from the Caucasus and the Crimean Peninsula, died in the mass deportation or soon after—some from cold, some from starvation. The Tsarnaev family eventually settled in a town called Tokmok, in Kyrgyzstan, not far from the capital, Bishkek. Most who survived the next thirteen years in exile were permitted to return home, in the late fifties, under Nikita Khrushchev, and they reëstablished a sense of place as well as identity. Some remained expatriates. Chechens speak Russian with a thick accent; more often they speak their own language, Noxchiin Mott. The Caucasus region is multicultural in the extreme, but the predominant religion in the north is Islam. The Chechen national spirit is what is invariably called “fiercely independent.” When the Soviet Union collapsed, in 1991, nationalist rebels fought two horrific wars with the Russian Army for Chechen independence. In the end, the rebel groups were either decimated or came over to the Russian side. But rebellion persists, in Chechnya and in the surrounding regions—Dagestan and Ingushetia—and it is now fundamentalist in character. The slogan is “global jihad.” The tactics are kidnappings, assassinations, bombings.

Occidental College Sexual Assault Response Subject Of Federal Complaints

Female Occidental College students, faculty and alumni say in a federal complaint that the Los Angeles school failed to take campus sex crimes seriously by improperly reporting and adjudicating sexual assaults and covering up rapes.

The 250-page complaint filed by a group of 37 Thursday with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights says the school maintained a hostile environment for sexual assault victims and their advocates and violated federal Title IX laws against sexual discrimination.

Boston Manhunt Could Cost City Hundreds Of Millions Of Dollars

In terms of life and limb, the attack that shook Boston on Monday caused losses that go well beyond dollars and cents. But for Surya Thapa, the owner of a Dunkin’ Donuts store in the Boston suburb of Watertown, the attack had a much more specific price tag: $4,000 to $5,000.

Miranda Rights Won't Be Read For Boston Bombing Suspect: Justice Official

WASHINGTON -- A Justice Department official says the Boston Marathon bombing suspect will not be read his Miranda rights because the government is invoking a public safety exception.

That official and a second person briefed on the investigation says 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be questioned by a special interrogation team for high-value suspects. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the information publicly.

The public safety exception permits law enforcement officials to engage in a limited and focused unwarned interrogation of a suspect and allows the government to introduce the statement as evidence in court. The public safety exception is triggered when police officers have an objectively reasonable need to protect the police or the public from immediate danger.

Original Article

Attack ads blight politics

I received an interesting email at home the other day from the Conservative Party of Canada.

The email was addressed to Ronald (my first name), which suggested that the sender didn't know the addressee was the same guy who writes business stories and columns for the Leader-Post. The gist of the email message was that the recent attack ads launched by the Conservatives minutes after Justin Trudeau was chosen as the new leader of the Liberal Party were having the desired effect. You know, the ads that suggest Justin Trudeau is "in way over his head,'' that he's a flake who sports long hair and moustache and takes off his clothes in public, thinks Quebecers are better than other Canadians and was at one time a "drama teacher.'' What the ads don't say is that Trudeau's "strip tease" and cheesy moustache were fund raisers for charity, that his quotes about Quebecers were taken out of context from a 14-year-old interview about his father's views on Quebec, and that, yeah, he was a teacher. So what?

Harper government sidesteps motion on MP rights to avoid giving Justin Trudeau a win

In the last election campaign, Michael Ignatieff spoke persuasively, often and at length about the importance of Parliament, complaining that Stephen Harper had shown contempt for our democracy’s central institution. Harper, on the other hand, talked about something more interesting to most voters: the economy.

Voters sent Ignatieff back to the lecture hall and gave Harper a majority.

Conservative attack ads demonstrate disrespect for voters’ intelligence

The recent release of political attack ads targeting Justin Trudeau should come as no surprise to Canadians. The Conservative Party has made a living in recent years by clobbering their opponents with commercials and advertisements aimed at discrediting every inch of their character. Stephane Dion and Michael Ignatieff both fell victim to the Tory attack machine. The Conservatives’ attack ads against the former Liberal Leaders were successful because they shaped the public’s view of both Dion and Ignatieff before they had the opportunity to make their own first impressions to the nation. The same will not be true of Justin Trudeau, the son of former Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, who grew up in the spotlight of Canadian politics and, as a result, has been known to millions of Canadians all his life.

Attack ads part of Tories’ mid-life malaise

MONTRÉAL—With attacks ads on Justin Trudeau, Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are focusing on the consequences rather than the root causes of their drop in popularity.

They are assuming that undermining the credibility of yet another Liberal leader will necessarily shore up their own. That assumption turned out to be valid in the cases of Trudeau’s two immediate predecessors. But two years into Harper’s third mandate, it rests on shakier ground than in the lead-up to the last general election.

In a Father’s Political Footsteps, but More Uphill

HE is young, handsome, charismatic and married to a glamorous woman, and he draws overflow crowds at political rallies. He also carries the name of an earlier Canadian political figure who once fit the same description.

Justin Trudeau became the leader of the Liberal Party on Sunday, 45 years and one week after his father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, claimed a similar political victory. But the parallels between father and son may end there.