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, May 27, 2013

Woolwich, Boston, and the End of the War on Terror

Back in January, 2002, when George W. Bush’s war on terror was getting into full swing, Terry Jones, a British comedian who was part of the Monty Python troupe, asked an awkward question: “How do you wage war on an abstract noun? It’s rather like bombing murder.” Eleven years later, nobody has come up with a convincing answer, perhaps because there isn’t one. But in the past couple of days, we’ve seen some laudable efforts to reframe the question in a manner that’s more amenable to rational discourse.

HSBC Bank Canada Outsourcing Finance Jobs To India: Documents

Royal Bank of Canada isn't the only financial institution where employees are busy training their foreign replacements.

Sources close to HSBC Bank Canada told The Huffington Post Canada that the country's seventh-largest bank is preparing to send as many as 23 finance jobs to India as part of an "operational efficiency" program.

Internal documents obtained by The Huffington Post Canada confirm that at least two employees from the bank's Global Resource Centre (GRC) in Gurgaon, India are currently in Vancouver learning their jobs from the people they're replacing, one of them a 20-year veteran, but a source said as many as 23 jobs could be transitioned abroad.

Senate plot line familiar? We saw that act in N.S.

The political drama around the Senate’s expense scandal is unfolding on the arc of classic tragedy. Ambitious figures aspire to great wealth and accomplishment, but commit an unethical act. They fear exposure and cover their tracks. But lo, the act and its cover story are revealed, the veil frays and disintegrates. Curtain on Act 1.

In Act 2, denial and indecision reign as details emerge and the consequences become clear. Conflict rages as alliances are tested and loyalties strained. The audience wonders whom to believe.

Ex-top Mountie fears meddling

OTTAWA -- A former RCMP superintendent says he's never seen the degree of political control over the Mounties that exists now, and says it "does not bode well" for an objective police investigation of the Senate expense scandal.

Garry Clement, a 30-year veteran of the force who spent more than half those years working in the National Capital Region, told CTV's Question Period on Sunday the thrust of the RCMP investigation will likely centre around Section 122 of the Criminal Code and breach of trust.

Justin Trudeau blasted for defending senate

OTTAWA — Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, who has surged into first place in opinion polls, was hammered by opponents Sunday for arguing Canada should keep the Senate because it gives Quebec a big advantage over B.C. and Alberta.

“We have 24 senators from Quebec and there are just six from Alberta and six from British Columbia. That’s to our advantage,” Trudeau said in response to the new NDP push to have the scandal-plagued $91.5-million-a-year upper chamber abolished.

Evil twins: Alberta Tories assail Wildrosers, and vice versa

I'll admit I laughed out loud when I read in the Calgary Herald that Alberta Premier Alison Redford had accused her far-right opposition, the Wildrose Party, of being an organization ready to break any rule to win.

Not that I doubt Redford for a moment on this one, which she delivered in a speech Friday night at the start of her Progressive Conservative Party's policy conference in Edmonton. Indeed, I reckon she pretty much nailed it as far as the Wildrose Party and Opposition Leader Danielle Smith are concerned.

Drones, Guantanamo and the Global War on Terror: A close look at Obama's speech

President Barack Obama's speech at the National Defense University on counterterrorism revealed a commander-in-chief increasingly worried about political criticism of his Guantanamo detentions, his penchant for secrecy and his drone warfare policies. Where Obama has shielded his policies on the basis of external terrorist threats, he now is responding to critics who threaten to upset domestic support for those policies abroad.

Conservative attacks are nothing but bullying

Last month, Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with parents of Rehtaeh Parsons, the 17-year-old Nova Scotia teenager who took her own life. She had been sexually assaulted and a digital photograph of the incident was shared around her school. Mr. Harper promised to create a new law against cyberbullying. That's good news.

But much of the news relating to bullying is far from good. Bullying is an expansive phenomenon, running along a wide continuum, ranging from physical to verbal abuse. For some reason, society deems much of it to be perfectly acceptable, as in sports and politics. In politics, this means harsh, often dishonest personal attacks on opponents. Last week's B.C. election demonstrated once again that such tactics work.

Canada needs modern, holistic solution for the three million people who are food insecure, don’t know where next meal coming from: organizer Saul

Support for Canada’s three million food insecure people, who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, needs to change from supermarket leftovers doled out at food banks to food centres where people can come for a meal, be treated with dignity, and stay to gain new life skills, says author and community organizer Nick Saul.

Mr. Saul was director of Toronto’s The Stop community food centre from 1998 to 2012, shifting the organization away from a food bank model and into a community hub with a kitchen garden, cooking lessons, and a portal for other social services in the working-class neighborhood.

Merely blaming media bias won’t make Senate expenses scandal go away

Lickspittles and tut-tutters beckon from an earlier time.

A Liberal time, when, according to Government Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton, the Ottawa media and the political elites were clearly in the pocket of the governing party.

LeBreton is living in la-la land if she actually believes that the current Senate spending scandal only came to light because of her party’s new commitment to transparency. The fact that she would even posit that argument in a Parliamentary speech shows just how badly the Conservative communications strategy has spun out of control.

Fife, the reporter who broke the Duffy-Wright story

CTV National News Ottawa bureau chief Bob Fife is a “pitbull” with “one of the strongest work ethics,” say colleagues. It’s how they say he broke one of the most explosive stories the Conservative government has had to manage in the last seven years.

“He is a guy who really works sources, and a lot of reporters, believe it or not, don’t.

Who's to blame for juror no-shows: 'Sad generation' or broken system?

When a Nova Scotia judge recently decried a “flabby, sad generation” for failing to appear for jury duty, he likely struck a chord in courtrooms across Canada.

Most provinces and territories that track absenteeism among prospective jurors (and few of them do) report that about one-fifth of citizens don’t show up when summoned.

The enduring power of Henry Kissinger

It is astonishing to consider the full arc of Henry Kissinger's influence on U.S. and world politics, spanning as it does close to six decades, 11 presidents and four generations' worth of dangerous events.

Indeed, it's hard even to remember a time when Kissingerian insights were not pulled out and debated whenever U.S. foreign policy faced a new round of soul searching.

Why Stephen Harper won’t get the benefit of the doubt on senate expense scandal

OTTAWA — If many Canadians are not prepared to give Stephen Harper the benefit of the doubt on the Senate spending scandal, it is because the prime minister has never bothered to earn the benefit of the doubt.

This is a man who plays politics his way, exuding a steely and cool competence, not much worried if voters don’t warm to him as long as they see his government as efficient.

Nike garment workers injured in clashes with Cambodian police

PHNOM PENH- At least 23 workers were hurt in Cambodia on Monday when police using stun batons moved in to end a protest over pay at a factory that makes clothing for U.S. sportswear company Nike, a worker and a trade union representative said.

Police with riot gear were deployed to move about 3,000 mostly female workers who had blocked a road outside their factory owned by Sabrina (Cambodia) Garment Manufacturing in Kampong Speu province, west of the capital, Phnom Penh.

Apple enjoyed Irish tax holiday from the start

DUBLIN—Apple has operated almost tax-free in Ireland since 1980, welcomed by a government keen to bring jobs to what was then one of Europe’s poorest country, former company executives and Irish officials have said.

Chief Executive Tim Cook faced criticism from a Senate subcommittee in Washington on Tuesday over the iPad and iPhone maker’s tax practices, which had been shrouded from full view behind secretive tax-exempt Irish-based corporate entities.

‘Muzzling’ of Canadian government scientists sent before Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault

Federal Information Commissioner Suzanne Legault is being asked to investigate the “muzzling” of Canadian government scientists in a request backed by a 128-page report detailing “systemic efforts” to obstruct access to researchers.

“She is uniquely positioned, and she has the resources and the legal mandate, to get to the bottom of this,” says Chris Tollefson. Tollefson is executive director of the University of Victoria Environmental Law Centre, which issued the request with the non-partisan Democracy Watch.

Justin Trudeau says provinces must have role in opening Constitution

The Constitution should not be opened without consulting the provinces, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau said Saturday in a remark that would have likely displeased his father, Pierre Trudeau, who negotiated the patriation of the Constitution in 1982 without Quebec’s consent.

The MP for Papineau was reacting to a decision by the NDP to launch a campaign aimed at abolishing the upper chamber — a move he absolutely disagrees with.

Climate activist’s book claims Conservatives tried to silence her

“The artist’s work dealt mostly with climate change, and was advocating a message that was contrary to the government’s policies on the subject.”

It cannot be easy being the “artist,” the subject of this 2011 email by a Foreign Affairs and International Trade spokesman, especially when her “contrary” message apparently cost her federal funding for a European art tour.

Francis’ Humility and Emphasis on the Poor Strike a New Tone at the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — He has criticized the “cult of money” and greed he sees driving the world financial system, reflecting his affinity for liberation theology. He has left Vatican officials struggling to keep up with his off-the-cuff remarks and impromptu forays into the crowds of tens of thousands that fill St. Peter’s Square during his audiences. He has delighted souvenir vendors near the Vatican by increasing tourist traffic.

Pope Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, has been in office for only two months, but already he has changed the tone of the papacy, lifting morale and bringing a new sense of enthusiasm to the Roman Catholic Church and to the Vatican itself, Vatican officials and the faithful say.

Thousands March Against French Gay Marriage Law

PARIS -- Tens of thousands of people protested against France's new gay marriage law in central Paris on Sunday, and police clashed with right-wing demonstrators.

The law came into force over a week ago, but organizers decided to go ahead with the long-planned demonstration to show their continued opposition as well as their frustration with President Francois Hollande, who had made legalizing gay marriage one of his keynote campaign pledges in last year's election.

Texas Shooting Spree Leaves 2 Dead, 5 Wounded

May 26 (Reuters) - A gunman randomly firing from his pickup truck killed one person and wounded five, including the sheriff of Concho County, Texas, on Sunday before the suspect was killed in a shootout with law enforcement, officials said.

Authorities recovered an assault rifle, a handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition from the suspect, who was said to be 23 years old and from North Carolina. The name was withheld pending notification of relatives, the Texas Department of Public Safety said in a statement.

Voter suppression cannot be allowed to stand in Canada

A federal court justice’s ruling that misleading automated phone calls in six ridings during the 2011 federal election didn’t affect the outcome should not be the end of this troubling story. Justice Richard Mosley ruled on Thursday that he will not overturn the results in the ridings where the “fraud” (his word) occurred, because there is no evidence the calls changed the results in each riding, and no evidence linking them to the winning candidates or their agents. While that is a relief, the ruling makes it clear that somebody attempted to suppress votes in a Canadian federal election, which is shocking and unacceptable, and cannot stand.

Election fraud finding by Federal Court points directly at Conservative Party

The Federal Court has found in no uncertain terms that widespread election fraud took place during the 2011 federal election. The ruling clearly states that "there was an orchestrated effort to suppress votes during the 2011 election campaign by a person with access to the [Conservative Party's] CIMS database."

"This Federal Court decision is a major indictment of the Conservative Party of Canada," says Garry Neil, Executive Director of the Council of Canadians. "Either senior leaders of the Conservative Party were directly involved in election fraud or they were astoundingly negligent in securing access to their voter database. Illegal or incompetent -- just like in the Senate scandal."

Rob Ford, Doug Ford Radio Show Airs Amid Widening Drug Scandal

TORONTO - The embattled mayor of Toronto took firm control of the narrative surrounding crack cocaine use allegations that have plagued him in recent days, vowing Sunday not to let media he described as "maggots" interfere with his running of Canada's largest city.

Mayor Rob Ford used a weekly radio show to decry his critics, tout his own political record and declare his intention to seek re-election when the city goes to the polls in 2014.

Senator shows why ‘sober second thought’ matters

Normally a speech in the Senate would attract as much attention as an avalanche in Antarctica. But on April 16, word filtered out that Opposition Leader James Cowan had something important to say.

Economist Armine Yalniznyan, tipped off in advance, listened.

Cowan delivered the kind of speech rarely heard in Parliament these days. It was sweeping in its scope and rich in detail. Having practised law for four decades before his Senate appointment, Cowan knew how to build a case, back it up with credible evidence and use his rhetorical skills to hold the attention of his audience. When he reached the end, six Conservative senators joined their Liberal colleagues in applauding.

Former top Mountie says political control over RCMP doesn’t bode well for Senate investigation

OTTAWA — A former RCMP superintendent says he’s never seen the degree of political control over the Mounties that exists now, and says it “does not bode well” for an objective police investigation of the Senate expense scandal.

Gary Clement, a 30-year veteran of the force who spent more than half those years working in the national capital region, told CTV’s Question Period on Sunday that the thrust of the RCMP investigation will likely centre around Section 122 of the Criminal Code and breach of trust.

Private drug plans ‘not sustainable’ in current form, insurance exec says

OTTAWA — Private drug plans that provide coverage to 19 million Canadians are not sustainable in their current form, according to an executive at Great West Life Assurance, one of Canada’s largest insurance companies.

Barbara Martinez made the blunt comment during a panel discussion Saturday at an Ottawa conference on universal pharmacare sponsored by Carleton University and the Canadian Health Coalition.

Our federal information spies are getting new $880M digs, being built at a time of austerity with little public knowledge

OTTAWA — The building is brand new and as big as a football stadium. But at a cost of $880 million, are the new digs for the country's secretive cryptology agency a good deal for taxpayers?

The Communications Security Establishment of Canada (CSEC) is the federal intelligence centre for the protection of electronic information and communication. They are our information wizards, helping law enforcement keep Canadians' privacy — and private government information — safe from the growing concerns of cyber-theft and fraud.

Huge cache of Canadian history hits U.K. auction block, tests Library and Archives

A huge cache of Canadian history, stored for 200 years in three wooden chests held at a British estate, is set to be auctioned next month in London — a possible test of whether the controversy-plagued, funding-challenged Library and Archives Canada is still in the business of acquiring newly available treasures of documentary heritage. An extensive and important collection of letters, maps and other original artifacts left to posterity by Sir John Coape Sherbrooke — the Nova Scotia governor who conquered Maine during the War of 1812 and later served as Canada’s governor general — is to be sold on June 19 as the showcase lot in a major Bonhams auction of rare books and manuscripts.

LeBreton defends government actions in midst of Senate scandal

There is no document, no scrap of paper — not even a Post-it note — detailing any agreement the prime minister’s former chief of staff may have made when he handed Sen. Mike Duffy a $90,000 cheque, the government leader in the Senate said.

“I absolutely do not believe there was any sort of document,” Conservative Sen. Marjory LeBreton said in an interview on the Global News program The West Block with Tom Clark. “That’s my understanding, and to this point there has been no proof or evidence that there was any document at all.”

Metrolinx backs hikes in HST, gas tax and new parking levy

It will cost the average Toronto region household an additional $477 a year in taxes to overcome a generation of public transit neglect and crippling road congestion under a transit investment strategy being unveiled by Metrolinx on Monday.

The Toronto Star has learned that the provincial transportation agency is recommending a 1 per cent sales tax, 5-cent/litre gas tax, a 25-cent-per-day non-residential parking levy and a 15 per cent hike in development charges to raise just over $2 billion annually.

Rob Ford: ‘There’s no video,’ reporters are ‘a bunch of maggots’

Mayor Rob Ford unequivocally says there is no video that shows him using crack cocaine.

Asked by a caller to his Sunday radio show whether it is indeed him in the video described by the Star and the U.S. website Gawker, Ford laughed and responded, “Number one, there’s no video, so that’s all I can say. You can’t comment on something that doesn’t exist.”

Tom Coburn On Disaster Relief: Status Quo Means People 'Don't Have To Be Responsible' For State

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) reiterated on Sunday that he won't support additional disaster relief funding without spending cuts elsewhere -- even after tornadoes ripped apart his own state last week.

"We've created kind of a predicate, that you don't have to be responsible for what goes on in your state," he said on CBS' "Face the Nation" while discussing the success Oklahoma has had in using state and private funds after the tornadoes.

How Prosecutors Fought to Keep Rosen’s Warrant Secret

The Obama Administration fought to keep a search warrant for James Rosen’s private e-mail account secret, arguing to a federal judge that the government might need to monitor the account for a lengthy period of time.

The new details are revealed in a court filing detailing a back and forth between the Justice Department and the federal judges who oversaw the request to search a Gmail account belonging to Rosen, a reporter for Fox News. A 2009 article Rosen had written about North Korea sparked an investigation; Ronald C. Machen, Jr., the U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting Stephen Jin-Woo Kim, a former State Department adviser who allegedly leaked classified information to Rosen, insisted that the reporter should not be notified of the search and seizure of his e-mails, even after a lengthy delay.

A Reply From Silicon Valley

The same week as my piece in The New Yorker on the political culture of Silicon Valley came two big stories from the tech world: Tumblr, a blogging platform founded by a high-school dropout (now all of twenty-six) named David Karp, was bought by Yahoo for $1.1 billion; and a Senate report revealed that Apple has pushed tax avoidance to its most creative outer limits, incorporating three ghost subsidiaries in Dublin to hide billions of dollars—almost a third of Apple’s profits over the past three years—from the United States Treasury.

Together, these stories tell us that Silicon Valley continues to create hugely popular products that generate fantastic wealth at the top; and that there is no such thing as tech exceptionalism. The technology industry remains another special interest, as intent as the oil and pharmaceutical sectors on maximizing profits and minimizing its obligation to pay taxes. Why is this surprising? Because, as I wrote in the piece, millions of people seem to take technological innovation for a social and political revolution (“Think Different”), a confusion encouraged by many tech leaders. Even Senator John McCain, after chiding Apple’s C.E.O. Tim Cook for doing his best to cheat America out of its share of the company’s patents and intellectual property, gushed to Cook, “You managed to change the world”—thereby echoing a common Silicon Valley mantra, as well as the title of my piece. (By the way, other Senate Republicans, such as Rand Paul, actually praised Apple for starving the public sector of revenue—more evidence of the institutional collapse that’s at the heart of my new book “The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America.”)

Multiculturalism doesn’t work

Last Wednesday, a British soldier named Lee Rigby was walking down the street in London, wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt. That’s a charity for wounded soldiers.

Two Muslim men driving by rammed him with their car.

Then they jumped out, shouted “Allah Akhbar,” and hacked him to death with a meat cleaver and a knife. They tried to cut his head off.

In broad daylight, on a busy street.

Bystanders took out their cellphone cameras to record it.

Canada’s chief electoral officer seeks crackdown on ‘robocalls’

OTTAWA—Canada’s chief electoral officer, Marc Mayrand, is appearing before MPs this week to argue for a crackdown on “robocalls” and voter-information databases before the next election.

Mayrand’s timing couldn’t be better.

The Federal Court of Canada handed down a ruling Thursday that pointed to serious abuse of these new campaign tools in Canadian elections.

'Strong grounds' for criminal charges in Senate expense scandal, ex-Mountie says

A former top Mountie says the RCMP has "strong grounds" to lay criminal charges in connection with the Senate expense scandal, based on what's alleged in media reports.

Speaking on CTV’s Question Period Sunday, former RCMP superintendent Garry Clement said he believes investigators can consider laying fraud or, "more appropriately," breach of trust charges under the Criminal Code.

Toronto police arrest man, take phone after attempt to film takedown at Sheraton

A St. Catharines man arrested after making a video of what he felt was a takedown of a young hotel guest that involved “unnecessary force” is suing Toronto police, alleging his rights were breached.

Karl Andrus alleges in a statement of claim that he was threatened with arrest as he used his BlackBerry smartphone to document another arrest in the lobby of the downtown Sheraton Centre Hotel, where he was also a guest.

Obama’s doctrine refutes Harper’s

America, turn the page from fear-mongering at home and warmongering abroad. Stop exaggerating the terrorist threat. The post-Sept. 11 era is over. Get back to normal.

That was the courageous message Barack Obama delivered Thursday, calmly and cleverly.

He confronted the hysteria that has defined America and affected much of the world, including Canada, for 12 years.

Species at Risk Act deserves federal protection now

About now, in the grasslands of Alberta and Saskatchewan, the last of Canada’s greater sage grouse are performing an extraordinary mating ritual. On earthen dance-floors known as leks many of the 50 or so remaining males will strut about, fanning their pointy tail-feathers, puffing out their chests and burping. The champion will mate with almost all of the females; the contenders will wait for another year.

If they survive, that is. The sage grouse, once common across the Prairies, is now at risk of extinction in Canada, owing to habitat destruction by the oil and gas industry, climate change and other factors. Almost 90 per cent of its Canadian population died off between 1988 and 2006 and at last count as few as 13 male birds remained in Alberta, 42 males in Saskatchewan.

National Capital Commission Looks To Snag Corporate Sponsorship Cash

OTTAWA - McDonald's golden arches on Parliament Hill? Tim Hortons billboards at the Governor General's residence?

Nothing quite so crass is in the works, but a cash-strapped federal agency is actively looking for corporate sponsors to fill gaping holes in its budget.

Systematic approach to voter interference ‘extremely worrisome’: Trudeau

HALIFAX — Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says it is “extremely worrisome” that there was a systematic approach to interfering in the right to vote in the robocall scandal.

Trudeau, who was glad-handing at a Halifax mall Friday, reacted to a Federal Court decision that found fraud was involved in the robocalls during the 2011 general election.

Considering the scandals plaguing multiple levels of government, it seems accountability as a virtue is on the wane

Uncharitable mockery befell Conservative MP Joan Crockatt earlier this week when she welcomed the resignation of Stephen Harper’s chief of staff Nigel Wright, plus the removal from caucus of senators Mike Duffy and Pamela Wallin, as “a clear demo[nstration] of accountability.”

The long-time Calgary journalist was chided for honouring the dishonoured, but she was at least technically correct. Accountability has varying degrees and meanings. It can be shown by open financial records, scheduled reports, transparent operations and frequent communications. An account is a story, or a reckoning, but it is also a place to store money, and a ledger of who owes what to whom. To be accountable is to serve any one of these definitions.

The mayor’s silent treatment holds the city hostage

This week, city council had to deal with two large pieces of business: one issue of substance and one issue of alleged substance abuse. The former—the decision at a special council meeting to forbid any new or expanded gambling operations in Toronto—was completely overshadowed by the latter. And that points to an ongoing crisis of leadership at the top of Toronto’s government that is only getting worse with each passing week.

It’s hard to be a saint in the bike lane

If you’re riding your bike around Toronto, make sure you have a bell. Or a gong. The Highway Traffic Act, which regulates cyclists, drivers, and all other road users, states that “every motor vehicle, motor-assisted bicycle, and bicycle” requires some sort of “alarm bell” in good working order. The act also states that you can use a gong, which you shall sound “whenever it is reasonably necessary to notify pedestrians or others of [your] approach.” The document doesn’t specify how big the gong can be, and its definition of “reasonably necessary” leaves room for interpretation, so you might as well buy the biggest one possible and bash it liberally.

Springboro, Ohio, District Considers Teaching Creationism In Schools

The Springboro, Ohio, school board is currently considering a proposal that would allow the district to teach creationism, despite objections from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and local parents.

The issue, which was discussed at Thursday night’s board meeting, is part of a larger proposal that would open up a variety of controversial issues for classroom discussion. According to the proposal, “[s]ex education, legalization of drugs, evolution/creation, pro-life/abortion, contraception/abstinence, conservatism/liberalism, politics, gun rights, global warming and climate change and sustainable development” would be considered suitable classroom topics, reports local news outlet WHIO-TV.

Haynes Johnson Dead: Pulitzer-Winning Journalist And Author Dies At 81

WASHINGTON — Haynes Johnson, a pioneering Washington journalist who won a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the civil rights movements and migrated from newspapers to television, books and teaching, died Friday. He was 81.

The Washington Post reported he died at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Md. In a statement to the Post newsroom, Managing Editor Kevin Merida said Johnson died of a heart attack.

Sectarian Violence On The Rise In Iraq As Sunni Insurgency Reemerges And U.S. Tries To Play Peacekeeper

WASHINGTON, May 25 (Reuters) - Saddled with Middle East problems ranging from Iran to Syria and beyond, President Barack Obama now faces one that is both old and new: Iraq.

Unresolved sectarian tensions, inflamed by the raging civil war in neighboring Syria, have combined to send violence in Iraq to its highest level since Obama withdrew the last U.S. troops in December 2011, U.S. officials and Middle East analysts say.

Ista Pharmaceuticals To Pay $33.5 Million To Settle Claims Company Paid Doctors To Push Drug

May 24 (Reuters) - Ista Pharmaceuticals Inc pleaded guilty on Friday to charges it used kickbacks and improper marketing to boost sales of a drug meant to treat eye pain and agreed to pay $33.5 million to settle criminal and civil liability, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

The Ford family’s history with drug dealing

This investigative report reveals that:

    Doug Ford, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford’s brother, sold hashish for several years in the 1980s.
    Another brother, Randy, was also involved in the drug trade and was once charged in relation to a drug-related kidnapping.
    Their sister, Kathy, has been the victim of drug-related gun violence.

Why I Spoke Out at Obama's Foreign Policy Speech

Having worked for years on the issues of drones and Guantánamo, I was delighted to get a pass (the source will remain anonymous) to attend President Obama’s speech at the National Defense University. I had read many press reports anticipating what the president might say. There was much talk about major policy shifts that would include transparency with the public, new guidelines for the use of drones, taking lethal drones out of the purview of the CIA, and in the case of Guantánamo, invoking the “waiver system” to begin the transfer of prisoners already cleared for release.

Farewell Froggy, the Age of Ribbit is Nearing an End

Amphibians are disappearing horrifyingly fast worldwide, with a third of species imperiled. But they're disappearing even faster than believed in the US—and probably worldwide (more on that below)—according to the first ever analysis of the rate of population losses among frogs, toads, salamanders, and newts.

Tyrone Benskin, NDP MP, Loses Role Because Of Big Tax Problems

MONTREAL - The NDP has suspended a member from its shadow cabinet because of his chronic, long-term failure to pay taxes.

Tyrone Benskin has been stripped of his role as official-languages critic until he pays the $58,000 he owes to the Quebec revenue agency.

The provincial agency has contacted the House of Commons to seize part of his $160,000 MP's salary because of outstanding tax debts from 2007 to 2011.

Attacks on Muslims soar in wake of Woolwich murder

Anti-Muslim attacks in Britain have soared since Wednesday's murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich.

Faith Matters, an organisation that works to reduce extremism, said it had been told of about 150 incidents in the last few days, compared to between four to eight cases before Wednesday.

Fiyaz Mughal, the director of Faith Matters, said incidents were happening on the streets and online. "What's really concerning is the spread of these incidents. They're coming in from right across the country," he told the BBC.

The robocall ruling: Have we hit bottom yet?

Is there any integrity left in the Conservative party? If so, it’s getting harder and harder to find. Just as the Senate spending scandal was cresting in Ottawa and the prime minister was AWOL in South America, the Federal Court delivered a legal bombshell that strikes at the core of the democratic system: Canadians’ right to vote.

This week the Court ruled that a person or persons using the Conservative party CIMS database committed election fraud in six ridings in the 2011 general election. The fraud consisted of “voter suppression” by “robocalls”, automated phone messages purporting to be from Elections Canada which falsely informed voters that their polling station locations had been changed, in an attempt to dissuade or prevent them from voting.