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, May 14, 2013

William Ostendorff, NRC Commissioner, Invested In Honeywell During Plant Lockout

WASHINGTON -- Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner William Ostendorff has invested tens of thousands in Honeywell International Inc., an NRC licensee, since as early as 2009, according to financial disclosure records reviewed by The Huffington Post. Honeywell operates a controversial uranium conversion facility in Illinois and has come before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission several times for a variety of issues at the site since Ostendorff became a commissioner.

Julian Bond, Former NAACP Chair: Tea Party Is 'Taliban Wing Of American Politics'

Former NAACP Chairman Julian Bond said Tuesday that it was "entirely legitimate" for the Internal Revenue Service to target conservative groups for increased scrutiny, calling the tea party the "Taliban wing of American politics."

"I think it's entirely legitimate to look at the tea party," Bond said during an interview with MSNBC's Thomas Roberts. "Here are a group of people who are admittedly racist, who are overtly political, who've tried as best as they can to harm President Obama in every way."

Student Loan Debt Tenacious As U.S. Households Shed Other Debt: Study

Four years after the Great Recession, U.S. households are slowly repairing their balance sheets and shedding their debt -- except when it comes to student loans.

A new survey of consumer debt by the New York Federal Reserve finds that households shed $110 billion in debt in the first quarter of this year, a decline of 1 percent, due mainly to a $101 billion decline in mortgage debt, along with $19 billion in credit card debt. But they added $11 billion in auto loans and kept piling onto a mountain of student loan debt that has nearly reached $1 trillion, $20 billion of it new this quarter.

IRS Fallout: The Real Scandal Is Secret Money Influencing US Elections

The IRS is under siege for investigating conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status. But the real problem wasn’t that the IRS was too aggressive. It was that the agency focused on the wrong people—“none of those groups were big spenders on political advertising; most were local Tea Party organizations with shoestring budgets,” writes The New York Times—and wasn’t aggressive enough. The outrage that Washington should be talking about—what my colleague Chris Hayes calls “the scandal behind the scandal”—is how the Citizens United decision has unleashed a flood of secret spending in US elections that the IRS and other regulatory agencies in Washington, like the Federal Election Commission, have been unwilling or unable to stem.

Canada Housing Bubble: Jim Flaherty Calls Slowdown Healthy

OTTAWA - Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is dismissing fears about Canada's housing market, saying the current slowdown is welcome news and that there is no need for further government intervention.

While some observers are expressing fears that a steep correction is underway that will bring down housing values and possibly affect bank credit ratings, Flaherty said Tuesday that he believes government mortgage tightening last July actually helped avert what could have turned into a housing bubble.

British Columbians Have a Right to Know

The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was designed to give citizens direct access to government records -- to unvarnished, un-spun information that can be used to hold government to account.

However, the Act isn't working as intended. We're coming up to the 20th anniversary of the Act's passage, and it is showing its age. High fees, long delays and unjustified government claims for exemptions from the duty to release are common problems. Some problems have become so extreme that only legislative changes will fix them.

Labrador byelection voter turnout highest of any federal byelection held in Canada since 1995

OTTAWA—The Labrador byelection had the highest voter turnout, 59.6 per cent, than any of the 47 federal byelections held since 1995, possibly the highest for any past federal byelection, and the scope of the Liberal victory against one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former Cabinet ministers could be symbolic of a wider upheaval taking place in Canada’s political landscape now, say one Liberal MP and two leading pundits.

U.S. Taxpayers Footing Bill That Promotes Monsanto Abroad: Report

May 14 (Reuters) - U.S. taxpayers are footing the bill for overseas lobbying that promotes controversial biotech crops developed by U.S.-based Monsanto Co and other seed makers, a report issued on Tuesday said.

A review of 926 diplomatic cables of correspondence to and from the U.S. State Department and embassies in more than 100 countries found that State Department officials actively promoted the commercialization of specific biotech seeds, according to the report issued by Food & Water Watch, a nonprofit consumer protection group.

Amazon Workers In Germany Strike For Higher Wages

BERLIN (AP) — A union representing workers at Amazon in Germany says members are striking in a push for higher wages from the online retailer.

The ver.di union said Tuesday it is urging Amazon to adopt wage agreements similar to those governing retail and mail-order workers. The union says those agreements include Christmas bonuses and extra pay for working nights, Sundays and holidays and could mean as much as 9,000 euros ($11,700) more annually for Amazon workers.

Amazon says its distribution warehouses in Germany are logistical centers, and employees are already paid on the upper end of what workers in the logistical industry earn.

Ver.di represents some 3,300 employees at Amazon's Bad Hersfeld center and another 2,000 in Leipzig. It says both sites will take part in the one-day warning strike.

Original Article
Author: AP

This Is What Happens When The Gun Industry Sees Kids As Customers

The percentage of American households that reported owning guns dropped more than 40 percent between 1977 and 2010, according to surveys by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center. Among its efforts to reverse that trend, the firearms industry is working hard to convince children to embrace gun culture. Here's how.

A New Progressive Voice From New Mexico Joins the Senate

When Martin Heinrich was in seventh grade, he learned a lesson about labor relations. His mother worked in a non-union auto-supply factory; when management informed the workers that their hours were going to shift from five days a week to six, there wasn’t much they could do. When they then moved to seven days a week—the new schedule was three weeks on and one week off—there still wasn’t much the workforce could do in response. They were living in the tiny town of Cole Camp, Missouri, and Missouri was, his parents knew, hardly over-protective of workers’ rights. Martin’s mom lost her weekends, and her son ended up having to keep order in the house, cooking and cleaning for the rest of the family.

Jay Carney On DOJ's AP Records Scandal: 'Wholly Inappropriate' To Comment

Jay Carney endured an unrelenting grilling on Tuesday about what media watchdogs have called unprecedented actions by the Department of Justice to secretly obtain months of Associated Press phone records.

Journalists have been outraged since the AP revealed that it had been subjected to the secret probe, which saw the DOJ look at the records for at least 20 of its phone lines and at least six of its individual journalists over a period of at least two months. Carney was asked right away about the White House's view of the situation.

Outrage Grows Over the DOJ Seizure of AP Phone Records

When the news broke yesterday afternoon it was at first hard to believe, yet, when one thought about it for a bit, it seemed all too part of a pattern. The Associated Press itself broke the news that the US Department of Justice had notified AP last Friday that it had secretly obtained telephone records for more than twenty separate telephone lines assigned to AP journalists and offices (both cell and home phone lines).

Fight for the Soul of the City: The Battle Over Buses in Los Angeles

On November 6, 2012, as progressive voters cheered the re-election of Barack Obama, activists in Los Angeles also celebrated a lesser-known victory: the defeat of Measure J, a ballot initiative that would have directed $90 billion in taxpayer funds to local rail and highway projects, and would also have led to crippling fare increases and service cuts for the city’s bus riders. For twenty years, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the Bus Riders Union have been locked in a transit war, with the MTA pouring cash into costly rail projects at the same time that it cut bus service and raised fares. But rail not only generated far fewer riders than a first-class bus system would; it also had massive cost overruns that the MTA solved by raiding bus system funds. The BRU called this “transit racism”: some 500,000 passengers—with a median household income of under $14,000 a year—relied on buses as their means of transportation. Ninety percent of these riders were black, Latino or Asian/Pacific Islander.

Saskatchewan Omnibus Labour Law Has 'Hundreds Of Problems,' Critics Assert

REGINA - The Saskatchewan government has passed a labour act melding 12 pieces of legislation into one omnibus law that allows for more flexible work hours, shortens the qualifying time for parental leave and ensures disabled people can't be paid less than minimum wage.

But the Saskatchewan Federation of Labour says it's rife with loose ends, waters down current labour standards and undermines bargaining rights.

Arctic melting spurs U.S. exploitation strategy

WASHINGTON – Amid news that Earth’s atmosphere has reached a milestone in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations never before seen in the history of mankind, the United States has announced an aggressive policy that calls for the speedy exploitation of its Arctic oil and gas resources.

In what it calls an “all-of-the-above” approach to Arctic development, the U.S. claims it can combat climate change while at the same time exploiting the oil and gas reserves made accessible because of the rapidly warming climate.

Opposition calls for investigation into political emails sent to public servants

OTTAWA — The NDP is calling on Treasury Board President Tony Clement to investigate how a few public servants received political emails at work from the Conservative Party that linked them to a website asking which party they would vote for in the next election.

Mathieu Ravignant, the Treasury Board critic, appealed to Clement in a letter Monday that he should get to the bottom of the partisan emails sent to public servants, which flout the government’s own guidelines and the code of conduct governing a non-partisan bureaucracy.

Conservatives spin Liberals’ huge win in Labrador as Justin Trudeau’s loss

ST. JOHN’S, N.L. — The Conservatives are attempting to paint the Liberals’ easy victory over an ex-cabinet minister in Monday’s federal byelection in Labrador as a loss for Leader Justin Trudeau.

Conservative party spokesman Fred DeLorey said Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones win over former cabinet minister and incumbent Peter Penashue was not a surprise, given that Liberals have won the riding in all but two elections since the province joined Confederation in 1949.

International fact-finding mission on mining and water in El Salvador

Blue Planet Project campaigner Meera Karunananthan is currently on a fact-finding mission on mining and water in El Salvador. She is participating in an international delegation that includes people from 12 countries and 22 organizations.

On Friday, she was in the capital city of San Salvador. At the media conference that began that day, she spoke about international solidarity for the struggle to protect water in El Salvador and the leadership social movements in that country have provided to the world. That afternoon, she spoke on a panel along side Manuel Perez Rocha, who is with the Washington-based Institute for Policy Studies, and Vidalina Morales, a Salvadoran activist who has been leading the struggle against a Canadian-based mining company in her community.

Toronto real estate: Condo rents hit record high as would-be homebuyers stay on sidelines

Would-be first-time homebuyers are fuelling such unprecedented demand for rental condos across the GTA that demand far outstrips supply, with average rents surging to a record $1,856 per month, says a new report by condo research firm Urbanation.

Since mortgage lending rules were tightened last July, pushing many first-time buyers to the sidelines, demand for rental condos has skyrocketed, says the report released Tuesday. The number of condos leased via the MLS jumped 31 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 over the same period a year earlier.

Rise of populism thrusts responsibility onto citizens

In the midst of a mostly chilly spring, I needed the encouragement of a pickup that came on the weekend.

It didn’t come in the form of the performance of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Instead, the uplift’s source resided in two stories in the Sunday newspapers, namely the Star and the New York Times.

That sounds like this column is about my colleagues, even worse about myself. Rather, it’s about two topics that actually matter: technology and democracy.

Stephen Harper should match his soaring Arctic ambitions with investment the region needs

Prime Minister Stephen Harper likes to promote Canada as an “Arctic power” that’s prepared to play a “robust leadership role” at the top of the world. To his credit he has spent much of his time in office pushing northern issues higher up on the national agenda.

So taking the helm of the Arctic Council on Wednesday for a two-year stint offers the Conservative government its first big chance to showcase its ambitions for a region that U.S. President Barack Obama calls “an amazing place.” The Far North is not only strategically significant but also holds huge promise as a global shipping route as climate change thins the ice. It is also a vast storehouse of untapped oil and gas, minerals and even fish stocks. There are many reasons why trading countries such as China, India and Japan are clamouring for a seat at the table.

Saskatchewan passes omnibus labour law

REGINA — The contentious Bill 85 — the Saskatchewan Employment Act — has passed a third and final reading in the legislative assembly, overhauling and melding 12 pieces of legislation into one omnibus law.

Two components of Bill 85 have been the subject of court battles for the past few years, as unions questioned the legality of both essential services legislation and the Trade Union Amendment Act. Unions have said they may appeal a Saskatchewan Court of Appeal decision upholding those laws to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Guantanamo Bay: Inside a Legal Nightmare

As the hunger strike at Guantanamo Bay enters its fourth month and pressure to close the prison mounts, it's easy to forget that Guantanamo is not only a detention facility but also the site of a unique legal experiment that has no direct precedent in U.S. history. At times, it can be difficult to keep track of the tangled mess of authorities claimed, cases appealed and lives destroyed with Guantanamo at its center. Those looking for clarity on these issues have a new, important resource in author Jess Bravin's book The Terror Courts: Rough Justice at Guantanamo Bay, which tells the story of the evolution of Guantanamo's legal universe in captivating detail, and provides the reader with a clear picture of just how we arrived at this bizarre moment in our history.

Public research dollars, private profit

How would you like to get a gift from your employer? Last year the president of the National Research Council gave each of his more than 4,000 employees a $3 gift certificate at Tim Hortons. Offered in recognition of professional contribution to the NRC, Canadian Press reported 65 laid-off workers were naturally insulted getting the voucher for coffee and a doughnut on what turned out to be their last day on the job.

The clown who thought up this promotion is in charge of an organization that spends nearly one billion dollars a year. Founded in 1916, the NRC just got a makeover. Now its public dollars are to go to fund private business ventures. Basic research is being eliminated.

Tories hope ads aimed at U.S. lawmakers will win support for Keystone pipeline

OTTAWA — The Conservative government has launched a public relations advertising offensive on American lawmakers ahead of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s trip this week to New York, selling Canada as an environmental leader in hopes of winning U.S. political support for the Keystone XL oilsands pipeline.

The federal government ran ads Monday in Washington D.C. newspapers, along with the launch of a new government website, trumpeting Canada as a reliable energy supplier to the United States and “world environmental leader” on oil and gas development.

Harper government 'sending message' by deporting Palestinian

In one of the most heavily promoted deportations in recent years, the Harper government is bidding a noisy farewell to a Palestinian whom it says Ottawa first began proceedings to remove more than a quarter century ago.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney held a news conference on Parliament Hill Monday to send off Mahmoud Mohammad Issa Mohammad, a former member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, who, together with another man, stormed an Israeli airliner in 1968, killing one passenger.

ACLU, Human Rights Groups: 'Cruel' Force-Feeding Of Hunger-Striking Guantanamo Detainees Must End

The American Civil Liberties Union and other human rights groups on Monday called on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to halt the force-feeding of hunger-striking Guantanamo detainees.

In a letter addressed to Hagel, the organizations describe the process being used to deliver nutrients to 29 of the 100 prisoners who are currently protesting by not eating:

    The force-feeding process is inherently cruel, inhuman, and degrading. The prisoner is strapped into a chair with restraints on his legs, arms, body, and sometimes head, immobilizing him. A tube is inserted up his nostril, and snaked down his throat into his stomach. A liquid nutritional supplement is then forced down the tube. The prisoner is restrained in the chair for upwards of two hours to prevent him from vomiting. As Guantánamo hunger-striker Samir Naji al Hasan Moqbel explained recently: “I can’t describe how painful it is to be force-fed this way. As it was thrust in, it made me feel like throwing up. I wanted to vomit, but I couldn’t. There was agony in my chest, throat and stomach. I had never experienced such pain before.” 1 Debilitating risks of force-feeding include major infections, pneumonia, collapsed lungs, heart failure, post-traumatic stress disorder and other psychological trauma.

Bloomberg Posted Private Terminal Messages By Accident: Report

Bloomberg says it accidentally posted on the internet more than 10,000 private messages that traders sent each other on their Bloomberg terminals. The new revelation, reported by the Financial Times, will undoubtedly escalate the furor over Bloomberg’s handling of data that its customers consider to be confidential.

FBI Exigent Letters Memo Should Be Kept Secret, Justice Department Argues

NEW YORK -- The legal basis for the FBI's past use of emergency requests to obtain telephone records should be kept secret, the Justice Department said in a court filing last week.

The Justice Department has admitted that the issuing of those "exigent letters" was a mistake. But now it is fighting to keep the reasoning by which its Office of Legal Counsel approved such use under wraps. Critics argue that continues a degree of increased secrecy begun in the George W. Bush administration around the influential OLC memos, which in practice often set government policy on matters like drone killings.

Border Patrol Report Scrutinizes Widely Touted Initiative

SAN DIEGO -- A widely touted Border Patrol initiative to send migrants back to Mexico far from the points they are caught entering the U.S. illegally has one of the worst track records at discouraging people from trying again, according to a new study that offers a detailed assessment of how the agency's new enforcement strategies are working.

The aim of the so-called lateral repatriations is to make it more difficult for migrants to reconnect with smugglers. The Congressional Research Service, drawing on previously unpublished Border Patrol data, found those migrants were among the most likely to get caught again.

Former Attorney General Ramsey Clark Decries Government’s "Big Brother" Seizure of AP Phone Records

The Associated Press says the U.S. Department of Justice has secretly obtained a trove of journalists’ phone records in what its chief executive called a "massive and unprecedented intrusion." The Obama administration seized records for the work and personal phone numbers of individual reporters, for general AP office numbers in New York City, Washington, D.C., and Hartford, Connecticut, and for the main number for the AP in the House of Representatives press gallery. More than 100 reporters work in the offices. The records were from April and May of 2012. Among those whose records were obtained were Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, three other reporters and an editor, all of whom worked on a May 7, 2012, story that revealed details about a CIA operation in Yemen which stopped an alleged terror plot. AP had delayed publication of the story at the government’s request. "It seems to be terrible intrusion on the freedom of the press," says Ramsey Clark, the U.S. attorney general from 1967 to 1969. "I don’t see how the press can operate effectively if the public and the people who talk to the press have to assume that big brother is listening in and sees the conversations they engage in."

Author: --

Jailed Civil Rights Attorney Lynne Stewart Seeks Compassionate Release Over Worsening Cancer

Support is growing for imprisoned attorney Lynne Stewart to be released early from prison due to her worsening health. Stewart’s prison warden has recommended to the Justice Department that she be released to the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York. The 73-year old imprisoned grandmother is fighting stage 4 cancer that has metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs. Stewart is serving a 10-year sentence in a federal prison near Fort Worth, Texas. In 2005 she was found guilty of distributing press releases on behalf of her jailed client, Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, also known as the "Blind Sheikh," who is now serving a life sentence for conspiring to blow up New York City landmarks in 1995. We speak to former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and Democracy Now! producer Renée Feltz, who is just back from Texas where she interviewed Lynne Stewart in federal prison, the first face-to-face interview granted to a reporter. The call for Stewart comes at a time when the Federal Bureau of Prisons is facing increasing criticism for refusing to release terminally ill prisoners. A recent report from the Justice Department’s inspector general found the bureau’s compassionate release program is "poorly managed and implemented inconsistently, likely resulting in eligible inmates not being considered for release and terminally ill inmates dying before their requests were decided."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Alicia Gali, Woman Who Spent 8 Months In UAE Jail After Being Raped, Tells Her Story

An Australian woman who spent eight months in prison in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on charges of having sex outside of marriage after she was gang-raped told her harrowing story to Yahoo 7 News.

Alicia Gali told reporter Ross Coulthart she was working for an American hospitality company, Starwood Hotels, at the Meridien Al Aqah beach resort in the UAE when her room was flooded due to a backed-up drain. Gali was living at the hotel where she worked.

Russian Gay Man's Death Fuels Fears Of Rising Homophobia

A 23-year-old man has been tortured to death in Russia in an apparent homophobic attack, investigators said Sunday, amid growing fears by rights groups that anti-gay sentiments are on the rise in the country.

The victim's battered and naked body was found in the courtyard of an apartment building in the southern city of Volgograd on Friday morning, said a spokeswoman for regional investigators.

Elizabeth Warren Pushes Feds For Answer On Big Bank Enforcement

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) raised the stakes of her quest to find out why a single Wall Street bank has not been prosecuted in the aftermath of the financial crisis Tuesday, sending a letter to the heads of three federal agencies.

Warren, a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs asked Attorney General Eric Holder, current Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Jo White and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke whether they had done any cost-benefit research into prosecuting a bank versus settling with one, which is equivalent to a slap on the wrist for a profitable financial institution.

Aaron Swartz Documents To Be Released After Judge's Order

BOSTON (Reuters) - A U.S. judge on Monday ordered the release of previously sealed documents in the criminal hacking case against deceased Internet activist Aaron Swartz.

Swartz committed suicide in January before going to trial for allegedly stealing millions of academic articles from a private database using a computer network at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Labour voters increasingly turning against the poor, study says

Labour party supporters increasingly believe that welfare recipients are undeserving and that the welfare state encourages dependence, with a noticeable share saying that poverty is caused by a personal failing rather than a problem with society, a landmark study reveals.

A report for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation examined the links between public attitudes to poverty, welfare and the state of the economy using data collected as part of the British Social Attitudes survey.

The Real I.R.S. Scandal

Washington’s scandal machinery, rusty from recent disuse, is cranking back up to speed due to the alleged targeting of conservative groups by the Internal Revenue Service. Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said, “It’s the kind of thing that scares the American people to their core. When Americans are being targeted for audits based on their political beliefs, that needs to change.” Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, called on the President to apologize. George Will said President Obama could be impeached. Obama himself is taking the path of contrition. At a news conference Monday, the President said, “If in fact I.R.S. personnel engaged in the kind of practices that have been reported on and were intentionally targeting conservative groups, then that’s outrageous. And there’s no place for it.” More hearings, with more outrage, are planned.

Democracy, Alberta-style: Voters can have any policy they want, as long as it's Conservative

In Alberta, it appears you now have more power as the president of a neighbourhood community league than as a duly elected member of a school board!

With province-wide municipal elections scheduled to take place in October, that's something would-be candidates for school trustee might want to think about.

Albertans had a small but significant demonstration of this axiom yesterday, when Education Minister Jeff Johnson announced that if members of elected school boards won't co-operate with the government and vote the way they have been instructed, the results of their mistaken votes will be made to reflect the decision they were supposed to make.

Natural disasters forced 32 million people from their homes last year

More than 32 million people were forced to flee their homes in 2012 because of disasters like floods, storms and earthquakes — almost twice as many as in 2011, says a new report.

Most disaster-induced displacement was caused by climate and weather-related disasters, the report by the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre says.

More than 98 per cent of the people displaced were in developing countries in Asia and Africa.

British PM David Cameron pushes Obama for EU free- trade deal

British Prime Minister David Cameron, on a visit Monday to Washington, D.C., put on his European Union mask to push the United States for a free-trade deal. But at home he faces growing discontent within the Tory party over whether Britain should even remain in the EU.

Last January, in an effort to appease anti-EU sentiment growing in the U.K., Cameron announced that, if his Conservatives are re-elected in 2015, there would be a national “in-out” referendum in 2017 on whether to stay in the 27-country European Union.

Woman In Starbucks Drops Purse With Forgotten Gun Inside, Shoots Friend In The Leg: St. Pete Police

A Florida woman accidentally shot her friend in the leg while waiting in line at a Starbucks on Saturday.

Police say Pamela Beck and Amie Peterson were getting coffee at the Tyrone Square Mall in St. Petersburg when Beck moved to set her bags down in order to pay for her drink.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Talks Climate Change, Big Oil And Republicans

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. president of Waterkeeper Alliance, joined HuffPost Live on Tuesday to discuss Big Oil, Republicans and climate change.

"The first step for saving the environment is to get rid of the Citizens United case," he said.

Kennedy also criticized the oil industry directly. "If you go to other countries, you don't find a situation where half the people ... don't believe in global warming." He added, "That happens in our country because advertising works, and propaganda works."

Arkansas Oil Spill Health Issues, Lingering 'Putrid Stench' Worry Mayflower Moms

Genieve Long recalled the fear of waking to her 5-year-old son "wheezing and struggling to breathe" a few days after an oil spill hit her town of Mayflower, Ark.

Long, a mother of four, is just one of many Mayflower parents worried about their kids' health, despite repeated assurances from ExxonMobil and local officials that toxic chemicals in the air have remained at safe levels since the company's Pegasus pipeline ruptured on March 29, spewing 210,000 gallons of Wabasca heavy crude mined from Canada's tar sands region into the community.

Yvonne Jones Wins Labrador Byelection

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - Conservatives urged Labrador voters to overlook spending rule violations and return incumbent Peter Penashue to Ottawa as a cabinet minister — an offer they answered with a resounding No.

Liberal candidate Yvonne Jones won the federal byelection Monday in Labrador, recapturing a traditional Grit bastion and handing the Harper government its sole byelection defeat in a Tory-held seat.

Penashue’s ‘strong voice’ rarely heard in the House: study

If anyone in Labrador has any questions about how effective their former minister, Peter Penashue, is in the House of Commons, a new tally from democracy advocacy group, Samara, might help.

The group’s study tallies how many words MPs spoke in the House in 2012. At the top are New Democrat Peter Julian and Liberal Kevin Lamoureaux. For Hill watchers, neither of those comes as much of a surprise.

Red chamber takes closer look at senator qualifications

OTTAWA — Days after the Senate set out proposed requirements senators must meet to receive housing allowances, the upper chamber is now setting it sights on better defining a core qualification to sit in the red chamber.

That qualification is enshrined in the Constitution, and says senators must be residents of the province they represent. Senate insiders say that all current senators, including Sen. Mike Duffy — whose residency requirement was questioned — don’t appear in danger of losing their seats.

Justin Trudeau will ask Stephen Harper your questions

OTTAWA – Got a question for the prime minister, but not quite sure how to ask it?

Send it to Justin Trudeau. He might ask it for you.

A month into his new gig as federal Liberal leader, Trudeau is inviting people to submit questions they would like him to ask the government in the daily House of Commons question period.

'These two parties just don't understand': BC Green leader Jane Sterk on democracy and fossil fuels

Don't media just adore a two-horse election race. And in B.C., which heads to the polls tomorrow (May 14), the latest opinion polls bear that out with an ever-nailbiting NDP lead over the Liberals.

Though only two parties are considered contenders for a majority, on Friday, Green Party leader Jane Sterk in fact featured prominently at the top of a full-page advertizement in the Victoria Times-Colonist, under the headline: 'Who is strong enough to stand up for B.C.? ... Jane Sterk and the Greens have strong, clear views about how to protect our coast.'

The ad was not, however, from the Green Party; it was, intriguingly, paid for by the BC Liberals.

Canadian history is not just about wars and battles

Parliament’s Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage has voted to undertake a “comprehensive review of significant aspects of Canadian history. That history would include, but not be limited to, pre-Confederation, Confederation, suffrage, WWI, with an emphasis on battles such as Vimy Ridge, WWII, including the liberation of Holland, the Battle of Ortona. The Battle of the Atlantic, the Korean conflict, peacekeeping missions, constitutional development, the Afghanistan conflict, early 20th century Canada, post-war Canada and the late 20th century.”

LCBO poised to strike over quality of jobs

Poised to strike at the end of the week, LCBO employees are framing their concerns about “part-time, disposable jobs” as a prime example of the precarious employment eroding the welfare of workers across the province.

The main sticking point in contract talks with the Crown corporation, the quality of jobs for the LCBO’s nearly 7,000 unionized workers was the focus of discussion at the opening of the strike headquarters in Toronto on Monday.

Feel bad about Bangladeshi factory disasters? Act as citizens, not consumers

The toll from the Bangladeshi garment factory collapse three weeks ago has now risen, unimaginably, to more than 1,100 deaths – and a suitable reaction is scarcely less imaginable for appalled Canadians. Many of us feel connected to this disaster as sometime wearers of the Loblaws-brand Joe Fresh clothing line, which is manufactured at the collapsed factory. Beyond the simplistic option of boycotting Joe Fresh products (which will do nothing to improve conditions for Bangladeshi garment workers), is there anything Canadian consumers could do to make a difference?

Supreme Court Rules For Monsanto In Patent Case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said Monday that an Indiana farmer violated Monsanto Co.'s patents on soybean seeds resistant to its weed-killer by growing the beans without buying new seeds from the corporation.

The justices unanimously rejected the farmer's argument that cheap soybeans he bought from a grain elevator are not covered by the Monsanto patents, even though most of them also were genetically modified to resist the company's Roundup herbicide.