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, September 24, 2013

Secret case keeps Freeman from coming home

Anytime a government wants to hide its errors and illegality, it pulls down the shades of national security confidentiality and refuses to disclose any information. Time and again, the Canadian government's own cries for secrecy have been found to be without substance. Federal court decisions, judicial inquiries into complicity in torture, and various freedom of access to information requests have revealed the extent to which secrecy becomes the convenient way out from having to explain and be held accountable for lousy policy, inhumane actions and sheer incompetence.

Yet the secrecy train rolls on, whether through security certificates (a challenge to which will be heard at the Supreme Court of Canada on October 10) or in regular immigration proceedings. In the long-running case of Gary Freeman, the federal government has now invoked national security secrecy on what appears to be a foundation so slim that the slightest breeze will blow it away. Based on unsubstantiated newspaper articles and a secret file neither he nor his lawyer is allowed to see, the Canadian government alleges Freeman should not be allowed to live with his Mississauga family based on "reasonable grounds to believe" that it's possible that he may have been, could be, or will be a member of an organization that may have in the past, could at present, or may in future engage in terrorism.

Federal government puts public service compensation under microscope

Treasury Board is proceeding with a series of studies comparing the compensation of federal public servants with that received by employees in similar positions in the private and other public sectors, even though the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB) is doing the same sort of study.

The Treasury Board secretariat is currently advertising for consultants to conduct the studies, which will be done over the next four years at a maximum total cost of $1.77 million, plus HST.

LNG In B.C: Clean Energy Canada Report Flags Gas Emissions

VICTORIA - British Columbia's pledge to develop the world's cleanest liquefied natural gas plants looks hazy to an environmental organization that says the province appears to be prepared to allow oil and gas companies to belch carbon emissions three-times higher than those in Australia and Norway.

A report released Monday by Clean Energy Canada, an affiliate of Tides Canada, warns that without B.C. government policy leadership, LNG produced in the province could emit more than three-times the carbon produced at other plants around the world.

Slate Pitch: Obama is the Shrewdest Political Tactician Since LBJ

The conventional view in Washington these days is that President Barack Obama is not having such a great second term and might already be suffering a bit of lame duckery. After all, he failed to overcome NRA and GOP opposition to modest gun safety legislation after the horrific the Newtown massacre, and his immigration reform push has crashed into that brick wall known as the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. But here's a Slate pitch: Obama is the most wily tactician in the nation's capital since Lyndon Johnson.

Is Twitter About To Get More Invasive Than Facebook?

Facebook gets all the bad press, but the bigger threat to your online privacy these days might be your Twitter account. Twitter knows you much better than you may realize. And as it prepares for an IPO, it's taking steps that may allow it to profit from your data in ways that would provoke howls of protest were Mark Zuckerberg to try the same.

Until now, by design, Twitter has mostly dodged privacy concerns. It's a given that anyone can see your tweets (unlike those beer pong photos you stupidly shared on Facebook). Twitter already analyzes your tweets, retweets, location, and the people you follow to figure out which "Promoted Tweets" (a.k.a. ads) to inject into your timeline. That's the Twitter everybody knows and accepts, but it's not the Twitter that big advertisers and investors really care about.

Ted Cruz Has a Plan to Get the America He Wants: Minority Rule

Ted Cruz has figured out how to get the America he wants: he wants to impose minority rule.

No, not majority rule, minority rule.

The senator from Texas hatched a “plan” to “defund Obamacare” by threatening to shut down the federal government. He got a lot of true-believer conservatives—especially in the Republican-controlled US House—to buy into the scheme. But the Texan never rounded up significant support for his approach in the upper chamber.

Colonialism denial finds safe haven in Canadian media

Just one day after tens of thousands people took to the streets of Vancouver in support of reconciliation, the Nanaimo Daily News once again published a racist rant making it clear that for too many Canadians, reconciliation is really about soothing the discomfort of settlers who do not want to take responsibility for Canada’s annihilationist policies which continue to decimate Indigenous peoples. The article, by Bill McRitchie, once again exhorts us to "get over it," because after all:

    "the world was a very different place in those eras [18th, 19th early 20th centuries]."

    "The concept of human rights was virtually unknown."

    "As our country matured and demographics changed through massive immigration and the evolution of our society, however, the playing field began to level."

More Colorado Oil Spills Found After Devastating Flooding

State officials in Colorado are now monitoring at least 18 oil and gas spills after floodwaters inundated one of the most densely drilled areas in the United States.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission reported Monday that the agency found two additional notable spills over the weekend -- a 36 barrel release of oil between Evans and LaSalle at a Noble Energy site and a 26 barrel release at an Anadarko site near Johnstown -- and is now tracking eight total spills classified as "notable" and 10 additional spills where there is "some evidence of release of oil."

Bank Of America To Pay $2.18 Million In Racial Discrimination Case

Sept 23 (Reuters) - Bank of America Corp was ordered to pay $2.18 million to 1,147 black job applicants over racial discrimination in hiring that kept qualified candidates from getting jobs, the U.S. Department of Labor said on Monday.

The decision by Linda Chapman, an administrative law judge at the Labor Department, awards back pay and interest to former candidates for teller and entry-level administrative and clerical positions in the bank's hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Guantanamo Officials Stop Daily Release Of Hunger Strike Numbers

WASHINGTON -- Military officials at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp announced on Monday that they would stop automatically releasing the numbers of detainees being tracked as hunger strikers and those being force-fed. The hunger strike, which began in February and once involved the vast majority of Guantanamo's low-value detainees, has been carried on by just 19 of the facility's 164 prisoners for the past two weeks.

BlackBerry to be sold to group led by Fairfax Financial

Troubled smartphone maker BlackBerry has signed a provisional agreement to be bought by a consortium led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, which already owns approximately 10 per cent of the publicly traded shares in the Waterloo, Ont.-based company.

Trading of the company's shares was temporarily halted on the Nasdaq and the Toronto Stock Exchange early afternoon Monday after BlackBerry announced the deal, which is still subject to due diligence. Trading resumed around 2 p.m. ET.

Marla Ruzicka’s Heroism

Arifa had lost nearly everything when Marla Ruzicka walked through the door and into her life. The American intervention in Afghanistan had started just weeks before. A US bomb missed its target by three miles and landed instead on Arifa’s home, leaving her a widow at the age of 30. She buried her husband, eldest son and six other family members under small, chipped stone markers on a dirt street outside Kabul.

To Arifa, Marla must have seemed to be from a different world, and in many ways she was. A quintessential California girl, Marla was gregarious and full of can-do optimism. But Afghanistan was sinking into her skin. The stories of all the wounded civilians deeply affected her as she traveled across the country in 2002. How could it be that her own country had no idea how many people were being harmed by its combat operations? How could it be that their loved ones received nothing for their losses?

Will California Choose Prisons Over Schools—Again?

Last fall in California, a broad coalition of community organizations, faith-based groups, advocates and unions came together to help pass Proposition 30, Governor Jerry Brown’s bid to raise taxes to increase state revenues for schools. To sell them on the initiative, Brown told voters, “Money into our schools or money out of our schools. It’s really stark…. The California dream is built on great public schools and colleges and universities.” Prop 30’s passage was a notable victory, with more than 55 percent of voters approving the measure despite a barrage of negative advertising paid for by out-of-state anti-tax groups. For the first time in a decade, thanks to Prop 30, the State of California is likely looking at a budget surplus.

How Chicago Killed an Innocent Man

I vividly recall the photo: Anthony Porter, who came within forty-eight hours of execution after seventeen years behind bars, exits the Cook County Correctional Facility in Illinois in February 1999, a free man. He sees Northwestern University journalism professor David Protess, who, along with his students, uncovered new evidence of Porter’s innocence, and gives him a massive bear hug, lifting him off the ground. It’s an incredibly powerful image, proof of how journalism can right terrible wrongs.

After starting the Innocence Project at the Medill School of Journalism in 1999, Protess and his students freed twelve wrongfully convicted prisoners, including five from death row. Their work helped lead to a moratorium on the death penalty in Illinois, followed by Governor George Ryan’s historic emptying of the state’s death row. In 2011, Illinois abolished the death penalty altogether.

Women politicians and the search for trust in politics

It may not have occurred to you, but 85 per cent of Canadians now have a woman as premier. Only five smaller provinces -- the three Maritimes plus Manitoba and Saskatchewan -- don't.

I hadn't thought too much about why this would be until one night, while watching the news, Alberta's Alison Redford and Ontario's Kathleen Wynne came on one after the other. Instead of feeling prickly and grumpy regarding whatever the issue was, as would likely have been the case had it been their predecessors, Ed Stelmach and Dalton McGuinty, I found myself inexplicably relaxed and even charmed, and saying to myself: Why can't we have one of those here?

Canada's rejection of inquiry into violence against Aboriginal women is a national disgrace

In 2009, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva conducted a Universal Period Review of Canada's rights record and concluded its need to address the concerns of indigenous populations -- particularly, Aboriginal women.

During that year, fifty submissions slammed Canada on topics from labour rights to foreign policy and highlighted the country in the worst way among the 192 UN member states. According to a report by the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada, Alex Neve said: "The Canadian record of upholding the rights of indigenous peoples is a real disgrace and a source of national shame... These are not political, economic or natural resource matters. These are issues of human rights."

Corroding Our Democracy: Canada Silences Scientists, Targets Environmentalists in Tar Sands Push

Five years ago this month, the firm TransCanada submitted a permit request to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline, which would bring tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast. The project has sparked one of the nation’s most contentious environmental battles in decades. The Obama administration initially appeared ready to approve Keystone XL, but an unprecedented wave of activism from environmentalists and residents of the states along its path has forced several delays. Among those pressuring Obama for Keystone XL’s approval is the Canadian government, which recently offered a greater pledge of reduced carbon emissions if the pipeline is built. We’re joined by one of Canada’s leading environmental activists, Tzeporah Berman, who has campaigned for two decades around clean energy, and is the former co-director of Greenpeace International’s Climate Unit. She is now focused on stopping tar sands extraction as a member of the steering committee for the Tar Sands Solutions Network. Berman is also the co-founder of ForestEthics and is the author of the book "This Crazy Time: Living Our Environmental Challenge." Berman discusses how the Canadian government is muzzling scientists speaking out on global warming, quickly changing environmental laws, and why she believes the push for tar sands extraction has created a "perfect storm" of grassroots activism bring together environmentalists, indigenous communities and rural landowners.

Author: --

Tens of thousands walk for Reconciliation in Vancouver

Tens of thousands participated in the Reconciliation Walk in Vancouver on Sunday, capping a week of events coinciding with the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) hearings into the history of Indian Residential Schools in Canada.

First Nations, civil society groups and local politicians walked along with tens of thousands on a rainy morning to mark the culmination of Reconciliation Week. The event was supported by the City of Vancouver, who earlier this year proclaimed a Year of Reconciliation.

Judge takes time to decide if Khadr is serving time as youth or adult

EDMONTON - An Edmonton judge deciding if former Guantanamo Bay inmate Omar Khadr should be transferred from a federal prison says his ruling will come down to whether he believes the 27-year-old is serving time as a youth or an adult.

Justice John Rooke said Monday that the U.S. military did not specify that when it handed Khadr an eight-year sentence for killing an American special forces soldier in Afghanistan when Khadr was 15.

Khadr pleaded guilty to five war crime offences, including murder, in 2010.

Boehner Basks In Brief Glory As Doomed Budget Passes House

To a newcomer, the hearty ovation might have suggested that John Boehner was the Republican Party’s conquering hero.

When Boehner strolled Friday into the ornate Rayburn Room on the second floor of the Capitol, he found a triumphant tableau: his entire conference, hooting and cheering under the crystal chandeliers, packed against walnut walls the color of the speaker’s skin. Boehner took his place at the center under a painting of George Washington, as GOP whip Kevin McCarthy heralded the day’s “bipartisan” achievement.

Gender Pay Gap Likely Won't Go Away Until After You Retire: Study

gender pay gapMost women that are employed today will probably retire before they see pay equality in the workplace.

That's because the gender wage gap -- or the difference between average full-time pay for women and men -- isn't expected to close until 2058, according to a projection from the Institute for Women’s Policy Research, a think tank focused on women’s policy issues.

Egypt Bans Muslim Brotherhood

CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Monday ordered the banning of the Muslim Brotherhood and the confiscation of its assets, opening the door for authorities to dramatically accelerate a crackdown on the extensive network of schools, hospitals, charities and other social institutions that was the foundation of the group's political power.

Security forces have already been moving against the Brotherhood's social networks, raiding schools and hospitals run by the group since the military's July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi.

Pussy Riot's Nadezhda Tolokonnikova: Why I have gone on hunger strike

Beginning Monday, 23 September, I am going on hunger strike. This is an extreme method, but I am convinced that it is my only way out of my current situation.

The penal colony administration refuses to hear me. But I, in turn, refuse to back down from my demands. I will not remain silent, resigned to watch as my fellow prisoners collapse under the strain of slavery-like conditions. I demand that the colony administration respect human rights; I demand that the Mordovia camp function in accordance with the law. I demand that we be treated like human beings, not slaves.

'Which Will Win, Wisdom or Greed?'

[Editor's note: In A Short History of Progress, his bestselling 2004 Massey Lecture, Ronald Wright questioned the uncritical embrace of progress by examining the rise and fall of ancient civilizations. The book became a surprise international hit that led to Martin Scorsese's 2011 documentary Surviving Progress, which used his ideas to explore how close our own civilization is to the edge. Wright, who read archaeology and anthropology at Cambridge, spent several years in South America, and now lives in B.C., is the author of nine books including Stolen Continents, Time Among the Maya, and the dystopic novel A Scientific Romance, in which an archaeologist travels 500 years into the future to survey what remains. On Sept. 26 at 5 p.m., he will give a free public lecture at UBC's Cecil Green Park House as part of the "Utopia/Dystopia: Creating the Worlds We Want" lecture series organized by the Creative Writing Program and Green College. Wright will outline what he calls the 'Progress Traps' that threaten our civilization and the natural world on which it depends, assessing what has changed -- for better and ill -- in the years since he sounded his original warning of what may lie ahead. Wright recently corresponded with Radovan Zuffa for the Slovakian magazine Profit. Here, excerpted from that interview, is what he had to say...]

BC's Worker-Owned Mill Success Story

It was the summer of 2008, hardly the ideal setting for the beginning of a forestry fairytale.

The global economy was on the brink of collapse and thousands of British Columbian forestry workers had already lost their jobs. Dozens of mills had either shuttered their gates for good or cut back on production as the U.S. housing market crumbled.

Harper’s sudden change of strategy needed to woo B.C. natives on pipeline

So now Stephen Harper needs the Indians.

It seems everybody does these days – for all the wrong reasons.

According to sources who have seen Harper consultant Doug Eyford’s confidential report, Stephen Harper’s bureaucrats have not done him any favours in moving the Northern Gateway file forward. Eyford told the PM that genuine engagement with First Nations is the only path left. For a variety of reasons, selling the pipeline to First Nations leaders is now an unofficial panic situation.

Silencing Scientists

Over the last few years, the government of Canada — led by Stephen Harper — has made it harder and harder for publicly financed scientists to communicate with the public and with other scientists.

It began badly enough in 2008 when scientists working for Environment Canada, the federal agency, were told to refer all queries to departmental communications officers. Now the government is doing all it can to monitor and restrict the flow of scientific information, especially concerning research into climate change, fisheries and anything to do with the Alberta tar sands — source of the diluted bitumen that would flow through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline. Journalists find themselves unable to reach government scientists; the scientists themselves have organized public protests.

There was trouble of this kind here in the George W. Bush years, when scientists were asked to toe the party line on climate policy and endangered species. But nothing came close to what is being done in Canada.

New York Times criticizes Harper government’s alleged muzzling of scientists

OTTAWA — The New York Times editorial board is taking the Harper government to task for allegedly silencing publicly funded scientists, a strategy the Times says is designed to ensure oilsands production proceeds quietly.

The strongly worded Sunday editorial comes as the PR fight over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is heating up, with U.S. President Barack Obama yet to make a decision on whether to approve the project that would transport bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Ontario's Ring Of Fire Brings Opportunity And Fears To First Nations

BETWEEN LONG LAKE No. 58 AND LONGLAC, Ont. — Along this desolate stretch of Northern Ontario highway, an idyllic white chapel is perched on the point of a peninsula next to to a “No Swimming” sign wedged into the poisoned shoreline that juts into glistening Long Lake.

On the opposite side of the Trans-Canada Highway, a downtrodden young man, a filled plastic garbage bag slung over each shoulder, saunters past a long-idle train toward the swampy lowland of the Long Lake No. 58 First Nations reserve.

How I Got Licensed to Carry a Concealed Gun in 32 States by Barely Trying

According to the state of Utah, I earned the right to carry a concealed handgun on a Saturday morning in a suburban shopping center outside Baltimore. Toward the back, next to a pawnshop and White Trash Matt's tattoo parlor, is the global headquarters of Dukes Defense World, a mom-and-pop firearms instruction shop certified by the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification to teach nonresidents firearm safety as a prerequisite for obtaining a concealed-carry permit.

My achievement doesn't make sense for a number of reasons. One, I don't live in Utah. I'm a resident of Washington, DC, a city that holds concealed handguns in roughly the same esteem as working escalators. I've never shot a gun. And in distinctly un-Utahn fashion, I'm nursing a hangover. Fortunately, none of that matters here. After four hours at Dukes Defense, I have a completed application and a snazzy graduation certificate for my wall. Sixty days after my application is processed, I'll be able to carry a concealed weapon in no fewer than 32 states. It's great for road trips.

It's the Austerity, Stupid: How We Were Sold an Economy-Killing Lie

It was the Excel error heard round the world.

In January 2010, as the global economy was slowly beginning to claw its way out of the depths of the Great Recession, the Harvard economists Carmen Reinhart and Ken Rogoff published a short paper with a grim message: Too much debt kills economic growth. They had compiled a comprehensive database of debt episodes throughout the 20th century, and their data told an unmistakable story: Time and again, countries that rack up high debt levels have gone on to suffer years—sometimes decades—of stagnation.

Chaos Computer Club breaks Apple TouchID

The biometrics hacking team of the Chaos Computer Club (CCC) has successfully bypassed the biometric security of Apple's TouchID using easy everyday means. A fingerprint of the phone user, photographed from a glass surface, was enough to create a fake finger that could unlock an iPhone 5s secured with TouchID. This demonstrates – again – that fingerprint biometrics is unsuitable as access control method and should be avoided.

Apple had released the new iPhone with a fingerprint sensor that was supposedly much more secure than previous fingerprint technology. A lot of bogus speculation about the marvels of the new technology and how hard to defeat it supposedly is had dominated the international technology press for days.

The Shadow Commander

Last February, some of Iran’s most influential leaders gathered at the Amir al-Momenin Mosque, in northeast Tehran, inside a gated community reserved for officers of the Revolutionary Guard. They had come to pay their last respects to a fallen comrade. Hassan Shateri, a veteran of Iran’s covert wars throughout the Middle East and South Asia, was a senior commander in a powerful, élite branch of the Revolutionary Guard called the Quds Force. The force is the sharp instrument of Iranian foreign policy, roughly analogous to a combined C.I.A. and Special Forces; its name comes from the Persian word for Jerusalem, which its fighters have promised to liberate. Since 1979, its goal has been to subvert Iran’s enemies and extend the country’s influence across the Middle East. Shateri had spent much of his career abroad, first in Afghanistan and then in Iraq, where the Quds Force helped Shiite militias kill American soldiers.

Construction Jobs Could Be First Victims Of ‘Unbalanced' Economy

All those construction cranes dotting the Toronto skyline might be evidence of an economy that has a serious problem, writes BMO Capital Markets’ chief economist Doug Porter.

The proportion of the economy related to construction is more than twice as high in Canada as it is in the U.S., Porter said in a client note this week. Of all the economic activity in Canada, 13.4 per cent is related to construction, compared to 5.8 per cent for the U.S.

Government decisions should be evidence-based

The Conservative-imposed code of silence has been muzzling federal scientists for years.

Last week, they decided to fight back. With rallies in 17 cities across the country, organizers claimed it was one of the largest pro-science demonstrations in the history of the country.  

Scientists usually toil quietly in the bowels of government. Rarely do they raise their heads from their proverbial Bunsen burners to speak out.  That reticence makes last week’s “Stand Up for Science” protests even more courageous.

Poloz sounds more like a Harper Cabinet minister than Canada’s central bank governor

Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz, with his rah-rah Vancouver speech on the economy, sounds more like a Cabinet minister in the Harper government than an independent central bank governor. This should concern him because Canadians want an independent central bank governor who is non-partisan, thorough and analytical in his pronouncements. They don’t need another economic cheerleader.

In his latest public speech, in Vancouver, Poloz rhapsodized about the looming return to what he called “natural economic growth.”

Biotech lobby rejects calls for mandatory labelling of GM foods

An industry association representing Canada’s plant biotechnology sector says that efforts to make the labelling of genetically modified foods mandatory could discourage consumers from purchasing such products without a scientific basis.

Janice Tranberg, CropLife Canada’s vice-president for Western Canada, told The Hill Times that calls for mandatory labelling of genetically modified (GM) foods would be an unnecessary cost to industry and consumers.

Feds deny plans to reintroduce lawful access legislation

The federal government says it has no intention of reintroducing lawful access legislation when Parliament returns this fall, but privacy advocates are concerned that forthcoming cyberbullying legislation could be used to permit the warrantless collection of Canadians’ communications data.

The Conservatives are expected to revisit the intersection between telecommunications and law enforcement when the House returns this fall with legislation to address cyberbullying. Justice Minister Peter MacKay (Central Nova, N.S.) has already signalled that the government plans to introduce such legislation in the forthcoming Parliamentary session.

Former CIC mandarin says several public policies came from minister’s anecdotes

When the Conservatives won government in 2006, the federal public service was not prepared for the ideological change to public policy-making, says a former top mandarin and author of the new book Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias: Resetting Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

“One of the funny things about the relationship between the political level and official level is that we’re both equally certain in our own truth,” said Andrew Griffith, a former 30-year veteran of the public service, in an interview with The Hill Times. “A party comes in, they’ve developed a platform, they’re absolutely convinced they’re right and that they have the truth and they were elected on that platform and, similarly, we in the public service are convinced that we’re absolutely right, we have the studies, the research, the evidence—how can anybody disagree with us?”

Harper says Ottawa will help extend Toronto’s subway system

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Ottawa will chip in to help Toronto expand its subway system further into the city’s east end, though it is not immediately known precisely how much money the government will be providing.

"I think this is good news for Toronto commuters, who obviously continue to face the challenges of gridlock," Harper said to reporters at the International Plaza Hotel near Toronto's main airport on Sunday afternoon.

Spilling the NSA’s Secrets: Guardian Editor Alan Rusbridger on the Inside Story of Snowden Leaks

Three-and-a-half months after National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden came public on the the U.S. government’s massive spying operations at home and abroad, we spend the hour with Alan Rusbridger, editor-in-chief of The Guardian, the British newspaper that first reported on Snowden’s leaked documents. The Guardian has continued releasing a series of exposés based on Snowden’s leaks coloring in the details on how the NSA has managed to collect telephone records in bulk and information on nearly everything a user does on the Internet. The articles have ignited widespread debate about security agencies’ covert activities, digital data protection and the nature of investigative journalism. The newspaper has been directly targeted as a result — over the summer the British government forced the paper to destroy computer hard drives containing copies of Snowden’s secret files, and later detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald. Rusbridger, editor of The Guardian for nearly two decades, joins us to tell the inside story of The Guardian’s publication of the NSA leaks and the crackdown it has faced from its own government as a result.

Author: --

How the NFL Fleeces Taxpayers

Last year was a busy one for public giveaways to the National Football League. In Virginia, Republican Governor Bob McDonnell, who styles himself as a budget-slashing conservative crusader, took $4 million from taxpayers’ pockets and handed the money to the Washington Redskins, for the team to upgrade a workout facility. Hoping to avoid scrutiny, McDonnell approved the gift while the state legislature was out of session. The Redskins’ owner, Dan Snyder, has a net worth estimated by Forbes at $1 billion. But even billionaires like to receive expensive gifts.

Lt.-Gen. Leslie blasts Conservative government’s treatment of veterans

OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau’s latest recruit to the Liberal team says the Conservative government is not doing all it can to help Canadian veterans.

“I’m not convinced they’re doing all they should be doing to give those wounded soldiers and those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress the dues and support they need,” Lt.-Gen. (Ret.) Andrew Leslie said in an interview on The West Block with Tom Clark. “It is a sacred duty of any nation to actually support their veterans.

Oil Railway To Prince Rupert Could Carry Northern Gateway's Capacity: Memos

OTTAWA - CN Rail, at the urging of Chinese-owned Nexen Inc., is considering shipping Alberta bitumen to Prince Rupert, B.C., by rail in quantities matching the controversial Northern Gateway pipeline, documents show.

Internal memos obtained by Greenpeace under the Access to Information Act show the rail carrier raised the proposal last March with Natural Resources Canada.

George Zimmerman’s Way Is the American Way

Not long after George Zimmerman was charged with killing Trayvon Martin, his wife, Shellie, called him in jail with an update on the money flooding into his PayPal account.

“After this is all over,” Shellie later told him, “you’re going to be able to just have a great life.”

AIG CEO Robert Benmosche: 'Too Big To Fail Has Been Solved'

Americans shouldn’t be worried about the nation’s biggest financial institutions sinking the economy any more, according to Robert Benmosche, the CEO of bailed-out insurance giant AIG.

“I believe 'too big to fail' has been solved,” Benmosche told the Wall Street Journal in a wide-ranging interview published Friday. He said that's because regulators and the financial firms themselves have put controls in place to prevent bankers and traders from taking the same types of risks they took in the lead-up to the financial crisis.

Russia Says U.S. Using Syria Chemical Weapons Deal To Seek U.N. Resolution Threatening Force Against Assad Government

MOSCOW, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Russia on Sunday criticised what it said were Western attempts to use a Syrian chemical arms disarmament deal to seek a U.N. resolution threatening force against President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Syria has handed over information about its chemical arsenal to a U.N.-backed weapons watchdog, meeting the first deadline of the ambitious U.S.-Russia deal that averted the threat of Western air strikes.

Canada: becoming an energy superpower

Canada’s economic success has depended on being a trading nation. Our vast, largely untapped energy endowment provides an opportunity to trade value-added energy products, shifting from our previous status of an energy superstore to a true energy superpower.  Here is the pathway proposed by the Canadian Academy of Engineering.

Electrical Power Exports Electricity represents one of the highest value forms of energy. It has shed all of its formation history, and is ready to instantaneously power the modern industrial and social structure of civilization. Canada, however, has yet to take advantage of an outstanding nation-building opportunity. An East-West power corridor supplied from remote hydroelectric and nuclear sites could now be built with nodes for the sale of power North-South to the huge North American market. Canada has the potential to produce the lowest cost electrical power on the continent, based on the most advanced power generation and SMART grid technologies available, with no viable competition in this marketplace. A new national vision, based on a strategic alliance among provinces and existing and new power companies, could achieve this goal within two decades. This is not an objective for any single company or government working alone.  It is the next stage of nation building.

Some Liberals join NDP in push for 'fairer' voting system

It's not just the Greens and the NDP that support a voting system that some perceive to be fairer to smaller parties. Some Liberals are coming on side as well.

Former Liberal Party leader Stéphane Dion is pushing for a form of proportional representation, a system that allocates electoral seats in proportion with the popular vote. Although Fair Vote Canada called Dion the party's democratic reform critic, he was in fact removed by Trudeau from that position.

Scottish Independence: Is Separatism A Global Movement?

The small northern California county of Siskiyou is renowned for its natural beauty, its remarkably diverse wildlife, its imposing mountain range, and its historic link to the gold rush of the 19th century.

It also just voted to become America's 51st state, the State of Jefferson. Fiercely Republican, the small county wants independence from its deep blue mother State, and wants southern Oregon counties and other California counties to join it.

The new PBO appears to be spinning his wheels

When he started asking around for departmental budgetary information sometime last year, then-Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page probably didn’t count on the whole thing boiling down to a wonkish letter-writing exercise. But even by the established standards of this seemingly endless back-and-forth between New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair, the PBO, the Speakers and various government departments, Monday’s missive from the new PBO is a weird one — and perhaps telling.