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, November 05, 2013

The scandal surrounding the Prime Minister is not about the Senate

Stephen Harper is not fit to be prime minister of Canada. His performance speaking to the Conservative Party of Canada convention last Friday in Calgary revealed flaws of character, temperament and personality that would disqualify him from occupying a leadership position in any public institution, let alone the highest office in the land.

Dividing the country into "us" and "them," his speech was designed to shore up support from people in the room, not address Canada as a whole.

The Prime Minister denigrated the contribution to Canadian life of public sector workers, academics, the media and the judiciary.

Harperland and the other hand

While Conservatives waited faithfully for Prime Minister Stephen Harper's convention keynote speech, a very different kind of meeting took place four blocks away. More than 400 people took part in Pros and Cons, a teach-in presenting arguments against the Conservatives' known policies and aspirations, and the resolutions coming forward at the Convention, such as:
- “move to a less progressive tax system"
- “support the sale of public assets"
- “restructure the CBC with the aim of the "elimination of all public funding of the corporation"
- “integrate our foreign policy with policies on trade and national defence"
- support "right to work legislation" while severely limiting how unions can spend members' dues
- gut public sector benefits and pension plans
- unilaterally change how land on First Nations' reserves is governed
- “push for even more public-private "partnerships"

Bringing down Stephen Harper by a Senate scandal of his own making

Could it be that our very own Senator Mike Duffy -- if he can call P.E.I. home without having lived there for decades, surely we can tag the Round Mound of Sound for Amherst's CKDH radio a Nova Scotian for his 1960s stint as a disc jockey and news reporter there -- will succeed in doing what decades of NDP policy wonks have failed to do?

Bring down the Senate of Canada.

And, perhaps, a prime minister in the bargain.

It would be a delicious irony if Duffy -- who liked to be called "The Senator" long before he was one, who lobbied Liberal and Tory governments for his appointment to the chamber of entitled-to-their-entitlements and whose journalism career ultimately became one long suck-up, appoint-me-please job application/supplication -- should go down in history as the architect of its demise.

Grassy Narrows wants justice for destructive logging and mercury poisoning

The Grassy Narrows blockade has been one of the longest and most empowering acts of First Nations resistance against government interference and corporate resource extraction.

Despite suffering from "Attawapiskat syndrome" -- the further away from Ottawa or the Ontario Legislature, the less likely politicians are going to care -- the members of the Grassy Narrows community have made themselves heard loud and clear over more than ten years of blockades and demonstrations.

Austerity and the politics of the Ford scandal

Considering all his budget cuts and bigotry, it's no surprise people are taking pleasure in the scandal surrounding Rob Ford. But while 60 per cent think he should resign, polls also show his popularity has increased from 39 per cent to 44 per cent. The scandal seems to present opportunities for the left, as the Toronto Sun anxiously wrote in its article calling for Ford to resign: "Ford's enemies on council, beyond calling for him to resign, are going to use his personal troubles and controversies to try to discredit his agenda of fiscal conservatism." We certainly do need to discredit his agenda, and have through a series of mobilizations. But the scandal can just as easily erase these memories, and substitute right-wing moralism that fuels his support and reinforces his agenda. We should remember why he was elected, how he was challenged, and the real scandal of the Ford agenda if we want an alternative.

Tories' Right-To-Work Motion Marks 'Shift To The Far Right': Critics

Canadian labour leaders say they are disturbed — but not shocked — that the Tories have adopted a number of union-busting measures in their official party policy, including support for U.S.-style right-to-work legislation.

Delegates at the Conservative party convention in Calgary last weekend nearly unanimously supported policy proposals that would require enhanced financial transparency from unions and allow members to opt out of contributions to political and social causes.

Texas Republicans Still Love Ted Cruz: Poll

Senator Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) isn't too popular with most of America after the government shutdown that he helped bring about. But he still has the hearts of Republicans in his home state, according to a new poll conducted on the internet by the University of Texas and Texas Tribune.

Fifty-two percent of Texas Republicans had a favorable opinion of Cruz after the shutdown, according the poll. Among Texas Tea Party voters, Cruz received a 92 percent favorability rating. 72 percent of Texas Tea Partiers have a "very favorable" opinion of Cruz, according to the poll.

Median wage falls to lowest level since 1998

Last year the median wage hit its lowest level since 1998, revealing that at least half of American workers are being left behind as the economy slowly recovers from the Great Recession.

But at the top, wages soared — the latest indication in a long-running trend of increasing inequality, with income gains going to top earners while the majority of workers see stagnant or falling wages.

Al Jazeera is the first news organization to report these figures from the Social Security Administration (SSA), which were released late in October.

Inside the "Electronic Omnivore": New Leaks Show NSA Spying on U.N., Climate Summit, Text Messaging

As Edward Snowden seeks clemency from the United States, The New York Times has revealed new details about how the National Security Agency is spying on targets ranging from the United Nations to foreign governments to global text messages. We are joined by New York Times reporter Scott Shane, who reports that the NSA has emerged "as an electronic omnivore of staggering capabilities, eavesdropping and hacking its way around the world to strip governments and other targets of their secrets, all the while enforcing the utmost secrecy about its own operations." The Times article reveals how the NSA intercepted the talking points of U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon ahead of a meeting with President Obama in April and mounted a major eavesdropping effort focused on the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali in 2007. The Times also reveals the existence of an NSA database called Dishfire that "stores years of text messages from around the world, just in case." Another NSA program called Tracfin "accumulates gigabytes of credit card purchases."

Author: --

Pricy Wireless Shuts out Poorer Canadians

Statistics Canada released its biennial Internet use survey last week, and while much of the immediate reaction focused on the continuing growth of Internet use (due largely to increased usage by those aged 65 and older), the bigger story is the ongoing Canadian digital divide that confirms the strong link between household income and Internet use.

StatsCan reports that 83 per cent of Canadians use the Internet, yet a closer examination of the data reveals a significant gap that is closely correlated to income. Moreover, the data also shows that Canada's high wireless prices now play a role in the digital divide, with only a quarter of lower-income Canadians using Internet wireless services.

The Senate scandal uncovers Harper's real downfall

When caught up in some slippery scheme, your downfall is often the banana peel underfoot as you run for the getaway car, not the bank heist itself.

And let's understand this: the Senate uproar is a mere banana peel compared to the real Harper scandal -- the slyly evolving plan to turn Canada into an authoritarian petro-state, bulldozing democracy, due process, national institutions, the law itself and whatever other detritus stands in its way.

The Senate stuff is highly entertaining -- great hubristic flameouts, reputations in tatters, partners in the enterprise of fleecing the taxpayer clawing for small shreds of dignity -- but in the end, it's mostly about a few bucks and "who knew what when." Very perishable stuff as scandals go.

Rob Ford and the truth about privilege

Renowned lawyer Clayton Ruby’s intervention into the Rob Ford spectacle got me thinking about the ways in which this civic mess has unfolded. Namely, it has brought into focus how privilege continues to be accrued unfairly to certain individuals and communities and not others in Canadian society.

Toronto Police Chief William Blair’s announcement concerning the recovery of the infamous video came just as a judge’s ruling on disclosure of the warrant became public. Some of what has been revealed in those documents is more damning than the reality of the video. The video vindicates the reporters and the Toronto Star in particular. However, the documents raise a whole other set of issues and concerns, ones that are bigger than Rob Ford and the specifics of his actions and represent a far more troubling, systemic scandal.

Harper's Conservatives a long way from upstart Reformers

Despite having been all but overshadowed by what ended up a drama-free vote to condemn gender selection, the most revealing glimpse into the mindset of Conservative party faithful may have come during debate on the only policy proposal to go down to defeat on the convention floor.

The thousand-odd delegates were rallying behind a resolution that directed a Conservative government to resist "any domestic or international pressure" that could encroach on its recognition of the "legitimacy" of private gun ownership.

Senate scandal: Mike Duffy allegations bring RCMP to PMO doorstep

The RCMP are looking for a chain of emails and documents that support Mike Duffy's allegations that the Senate expenses scandal reaches right into the Prime Minister's Office, CBC News has learned.

"The existence of such documentation may potentially be evidence of criminal wrongdoing by others," says Supt. Biage Carrese from the RCMP National Division in a Nov. 1 letter obtained by CBC News and subsequently released publicly by Duffy Tuesday.

The Mounties are particularly interested in Duffy's claim that his initial story about repaying his disputed expenses by taking out an RBC loan was concocted by senior advisers to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Soldier With PTSD Says Veterans Cuts 'Destroying' Family

A Canadian soldier who suffered a traumatic brain injury while serving in Afghanistan is speaking out today, saying his case being bounced around within the Department of Veterans Affairs is “destroying” his family.

Cpl. Shane Jones was among four soldiers injured, with a fifth killed, in 2005 when the Light Armoured Vehicle they were travelling in rolled over after swerving to avoid a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. When the LAV flipped, it landed in a mine field, trapping him inside.

Doug Griffiths Says Oil Bounty 'Sucks The Life' Out Of Alberta

EDMONTON - Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Doug Griffiths took some heat in the legislature Monday for recent comments saying the province's oil and gas wealth "sucks the life" out of everything else in the province.

"Why was the minister out there (in Prince Edward Island) saying that the energy sector sucks the life out of every other aspect of Alberta instead of promoting the very many national benefits of the (proposed) Energy East pipeline?," Wildrose Leader Danielle Smith asked during question period.

Facebook Hasn't Even Begun To Exploit Everything It Knows About You

When Mark Zuckerberg addressed Facebook investors last week, he outlined a goal that sounded more like a philosophical quest than a business plan: A major priority for Facebook, he said, was "understanding the world."

No, this wasn't the kick-off to Zuckerberg's journey to self-discovery. But it did mark a new phase in Facebook's journey to discover us in ways that are ever more detailed. Thanks to artificial intelligence, a technology Zuckerberg highlighted as a key focus, Facebook may soon understand not only what we do on the social network, but what we mean. In short, what we tell Facebook is no longer enough. The social network now wants to read between the lines. It's a critical difference that could have Facebook's members -- and advertisers -- using the site in entirely new ways.

We’re About to Lose Net Neutrality — And the Internet as We Know It

Net neutrality is a dead man walking. The execution date isn’t set, but it could be days, or months (at best). And since net neutrality is the principle forbidding huge telecommunications companies from treating users, websites, or apps differently — say, by letting some work better than others over their pipes — the dead man walking isn’t some abstract or far-removed principle just for wonks: It affects the internet as we all know it.

Once upon a time, companies like AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and others declared a war on the internet’s foundational principle: that its networks should be “neutral” and users don’t need anyone’s permission to invent, create, communicate, broadcast, or share online. The neutral and level playing field provided by permissionless innovation has empowered all of us with the freedom to express ourselves and innovate online without having to seek the permission of a remote telecom executive.

But today, that freedom won’t survive much longer if a federal court — the second most powerful court in the nation behind the Supreme Court, the DC Circuit — is set to strike down the nation’s net neutrality law, a rule adopted by the Federal Communications Commission in 2010. Some will claim the new solution “splits the baby” in a way that somehow doesn’t kill net neutrality and so we should be grateful. But make no mistake: Despite eight years of public and political activism by multitudes fighting for freedom on the internet, a court decision may soon take it away.

Migrants contribute £25bn to UK economy, study finds

Migrants coming to the UK since the year 2000 have been less likely to receive benefits or use social housing than people already living in the country, according to a study that argues the new arrivals have made a net contribution of £25bn to public finances.

People from European Economic Area countries have been the most likely to make a positive contribution, paying about 34% more in taxes than they received in benefits over the 10 years from 2001 to 2011, according to the findings from University College London's migration research unit. Other immigrants paid about 2% more than they received.

Hundreds of millions in foreign aid unspent last year, federal records confirm

OTTAWA — The Harper government is being accused of failing the world’s poor after federal financial documents confirmed that nearly $300 million earmarked for foreign aid went unspent last year.

That represents nearly 10 per cent of $3.1 billion that was supposed to have been distributed by the former Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) to fight poverty in the developing world, and is on top of other cuts already being implemented.

In contrast, $25 million went unspent in 2011 and only $2 million in 2010.

Rob Ford Says His Brother Doug ‘Will Be Premier One Day'

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford believes his brother, Doug, will one day be elected premier of Ontario.

The embattled leader of Canada's largest city was a guest on The John Oakley Radio Show on Monday, where he again apologized, without specifics, for mistakes he has made in the past.

"I'm only human. There's a lot of perfect people out there, I'm not one of them," he said.

The Real Story Behind the Phony Canceled Health Insurance Scandal

In 2009, when President Barack Obama first promised that people who liked their insurance coverage would be able to keep it under the Affordable Care Act, he overlooked one critical fact: Many of the health policies that Americans like are terrible insurance plans that were created to scam consumers.

Over the past few weeks, insurers have been sending out hundreds of thousands of notices alerting customers that their current plans won't comply with the ACA as of January 1 and that the owners of these plans need to find alternatives. Republicans and conservatives pointed to the development as evidence that Obama lied. Several prominent right-wingers who were covered under these plans, including Fox News contributor Michelle Malkin, have helped fuel this outcry. When Malkin got her cancelation notice, she went on the Twitter warpath. She later wrote a piece for the National Review slugged, "Obama lied. My health plan died." Malkin had a high-deductible plan from Anthem Blue Cross that doesn't meet the minimum coverage requirements created by the ACA. So she has to get a new plan on the state health exchange. Malkin blamed Obamacare for destroying the individual insurance market.

SAC Capital To Pay $1.8 Billion Penalty For Insider Trading: Feds

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal prosecutor says the federal government has effectively shut down a hedge fund giant with a deal requiring it to plead guilty to criminal fraud charges and pay a record $1.8 billion, proving that no financial institution is "too big to jail."

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced the deal with SAC Capital Advisors and related companies on Monday, saying it must be approved by federal judges in Manhattan before "the largest fine in history for insider trading offenses" takes effect. No date was immediately set.

Special Investigation: How Insurers Are Hiding Obamacare Benefits From Customers

Donna received the letter canceling her insurance plan on Sept. 16. Her insurance company, LifeWise of Washington, told her that they'd identified a new plan for her. If she did nothing, she'd be covered.

A 56-year-old Seattle resident with a 57-year-old husband and 15-year-old daughter, Donna had been looking forward to the savings that the Affordable Care Act had to offer.

But that's not what she found. Instead, she'd be paying an additional $300 a month for coverage. The letter made no mention of the health insurance marketplace that would soon open in Washington, where she could shop for competitive plans, and only an oblique reference to financial help that she might qualify for, if she made the effort to call and find out.

Street Cop

Mary Jo White, the chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, has a personal page on the New York Road Runners Club Web site, which records a battery of figures (Pace per Mile, Age-Graded Performance Percentage, and so on) for each of the official events she has completed. There are two hundred and seven entries since the first one, which was recorded a week before her fifty-sixth birthday, in 2003, seven of them since she began working in Washington, late last year, just as she was turning sixty-five. Friends and colleagues characterize White as the most competitive and driven person they have ever encountered.

In the nineties, when White was the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, she would arrive in her office, a few blocks from Wall Street, early in the morning, with a stack of newspaper clippings. They were marked with yellow Post-Its bearing a recipient’s name and a nudge: Where are we on this? Are we on top of this? She had a famously expansive sense of what her office should be worrying about. She once sent Patrick Fitzgerald, who was in charge of terrorism cases, a note about some white powder that had been found at the site of a truck accident in another state, involving a driver with a Middle Eastern name. Today, she blizzards her staff and her friends with e-mails at all hours. Friends with insomnia who write to her at 2 or 3 A.M. may get an immediate reply.

"Wounds of Waziristan": Exclusive Broadcast of New Film on Pakistanis Haunted by U.S. Drone War

The Pakistani government is warning of a new rift with the United States after a CIA drone strike that killed the head of the Pakistani Taliban. Hakimullah Mehsud and six other militants died on Friday when U.S. missiles hit their vehicle in North Waziristan. Mehsud had a $5 million bounty on his head and was accused of responsibility for thousands of deaths. The attack came just as the Pakistani government had relaunched peace talks with the Taliban. In a broadcast exclusive, we air a documentary that highlights the stories of civilians directly impacted by drone attacks in Pakistan: "Wounds of Waziristan," directed by Madiha Tahir. "Waziristan is only half the size of New Jersey. How would it feel if bombs rained over New Jersey for nine years?" asks Tahir in the film. "Would you be frightened? If they killed your son, your cousin or your husband, and got away with it, would you be angry? You probably couldn’t forget about it if you tried. You’d be haunted."

Author: --

CIA made doctors torture suspected terrorists after 9/11, taskforce finds

Doctors and psychologists working for the US military violated the ethical codes of their profession under instruction from the defence department and the CIA to become involved in the torture and degrading treatment of suspected terrorists, an investigation has concluded.

The report of the Taskforce on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centres concludes that after 9/11, health professionals working with the military and intelligence services "designed and participated in cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and torture of detainees".

Premier Clark Played by Oil by Rail Push?

The best way to weaken resolve is to ceaselessly play on fundamental fears. The most effective way to reclaim resolve is to understand how you are being played.

It probably wouldn't be worth addressing the latest pro-bitumen fear-mongering tactic if the topic hadn't wormed its way onto the agenda for Tuesday's meeting between British Columbia Premier Christy Clark and Alberta Premier Alison Redford.

Their plan is to discuss ways and means of expanding energy exports. As if lifted right out of the Fraser Institute's playbook, the transportation section of the agenda claims that oil by rail is a viable alternative to pipelines, and warns: "If pipelines are not developed, rail will step into the void to deliver bitumen to the West Coast."

Canada quietly ratifies controversial international investment convention

In August 2012, the Financial Post reported that Canada was close to ratifying the ICSID Convention, a binding set of rules for how investor-to-state disputes (like the Lone Pine case against Quebec's fracking moratorium) are handled that some countries (e.g. Bolivia, Venezuela, Ecuador) are pulling out of because of how these rules undermine state sovereignty. Canada had signed the Convention, and already agrees to 99 per cent of its arbitration rules, but could not be a full member until all of the provinces had passed ratifying legislation.

Apparently that has quietly happened, despite our request that the holdout provinces seek public approval for ratification, since the Harper government announced November 1 that it had was now a full member of ICSID. Trade Minister Ed Fast declared, "Ratifying this investment treaty is an important step toward further ensuring predictability and stability for Canadian investors operating abroad. This is the latest example of how our pro-trade, pro-investment plan to help our businesses grow and succeed abroad continues to get results for our exporters, workers, investors and businesses."

Is it time for the Conservative base to give up on Harper?

Between their cheers and their standing ovations, I wonder if Conservative stalwarts at their weekend convention in Calgary weren't just a teensy weensy bit anxious about the many awkward issues raised by the Senate expenses scandal. For example, is their leader telling the whole truth and nothing but? And is Stephen Harper really as brilliant as they were sure he was?

There is a veritable cornucopia of evidence -- for those who care about such trifles -- on all these matters. Here's a simple quiz:

Which one is true: When Mr. Harper said that no one in his office except Nigel Wright knew about the deal with Senator Mike Duffy, or when he now says "a few people" knew? (The number 13 is used by many.) Do you find it credible that his chief of staff, senior aides in his office, the party's chief fundraiser, the party's top lawyer, and several close allies in the Senate may have all hid from the Boss Man the money they were giving Mr. Duffy?

Senate expense scandal: The Harper brand of politics

Stephen Harper showed Canadians once again this weekend that he doesn’t flinch when challenged or alter course to avoid an obstacle.

Facing a political scandal that reaches directly into his own office, the prime minister hit back at his critics before a receptive audience of a few thousand party supporters. He told them exactly what he’s told his political opponents for weeks now — that the blame for the Senate expenses fiasco lies everywhere but with him.

Top Tories warn PM Harper against throwing ‘Wright under the bus,’ some Tories call Senate scandal ‘a delicious irony’

Top Conservatives are criticizing Prime Minister Stephen Harper for throwing his former chief of staff Nigel Wright “under the bus” by accusing him of “deception” and are warning that if Mr. Wright decided to return the fire, this strategy could backfire and prove to be disastrous.

“You don’t want to push somebody’s loyalty too far. Nigel is a man who values his reputation but, like any human, he will have a certain degree of tolerance. You don’t want to go beyond that point of tolerance,” said one top Conservative in an interview on not-for-attribution basis with The Hill Times last week.

Canadian Forces Harassment: Minorities, Women And Natives Experience It More, Survey Says

Women, aboriginals and visible minorities in the Canadian Forces say they experience higher rates of sexual and personal harassment than their peers in the military, according to a survey that found many don't bother reporting it for fear of being labelled troublemakers.

The Canadian Forces Workplace Harassment Survey found that over a 12-month period, 16 per cent of Canadian Forces members who took part in the research experienced personal harassment, which could include offensive comments relating to race, religion, sex or physical traits.

White House, Lawmakers Rejecting Edward Snowden's Plea For Clemency

WASHINGTON -- WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House and the leaders of the intelligence committee in Congress are rejecting National Security Agency-contractor Edward Snowden's plea for clemency.

"Mr. Snowden violated U.S. law," White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer said about the former systems-analyst-turned-fugitive who has temporary asylum in Russia.

"He should return to the U.S. and face justice," Pfeiffer said, adding when pressed that no offers for clemency were being discussed.

Peers Train Derailment: County Says There's No Fire Or Safety Risk

PEERS, Alta. - There has been another derailment of a CN Rail train, this time near the hamlet of Peers in west-central Alberta.

A news release from Yellowhead County says 13 cars were involved — 12 carrying lumber and one tanker with sulphur dioxide.

The county says the sulphur dioxide is categorized as a dangerous goods cargo, but added the tanker wasn't leaking.

Senate Scandal: Tories Just Want To Move On

OTTAWA - Conservatives are hoping a vote to suspend three errant senators without pay this week might help turn the page on a scandal that has jammed their political momentum for months.

MPs and a handful of senators are returning to Ottawa from Calgary after wrapping up a two-day biennial policy convention that just might have added another chapter or two to the saga however.

"Honestly, what most of our MPs are hearing from constituents is that they're sick of the whole story and the issue, they want to see something decisive done in terms of accountability and then to move on," Employment Minister Jason Kenney said in a weekend interview.

Walmart Is Trying to Block Workers' Disability Benefits

Last week, amidst a deluge of criticism about Walmart's poverty-level wages, the retail giant announced promotions for 25,000 of its roughly 1.3 million US employees. But although Walmart has raised pay for some of its employees, it is simultaneously fighting to convince the Supreme Court to allow it to more easily avoid paying disability benefits.

Last month, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Heimeshoff v. Hartford Life & Accident Insurance Co. and Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., a case brought by Julie Heimeshoff, a Walmart employee who sued the company and its insurance provider in 2010 for refusing to pay her disability benefits. Heimeshoff worked at Walmart for nearly 20 years, most recently as a public relations manager. About 10 years ago, she was diagnosed with fibromyalgia, lupus, and other chronic pain problems, and in June 2005, the pain became so severe that she had to stop working. Heimeshoff applied for disability benefits and, after a long internal review, her claim was denied. She sued over the denial of benefits less than three years later. That was within the statute of limitations—or so she thought.

Texas' Restrictive Voter ID Law Stops A Former U.S. House Speaker From Getting A Voter ID Card

Former U.S. Speaker of the House Jim Wright (D-Texas) tried to get a voter identification card at a Texas Department of Public Safety office on Saturday.

But the only photo identification cards Wright has -- an expired Texas driver's license and a Texas Christian University faculty identification card -- do not satisfy the requirements of the state's restrictive vote identification law, passed in 2011. Wright is 90 years old.

“I earnestly hope these unduly stringent requirements on voters won’t dramatically reduce the number of people who vote,” Wright told the Star-Telegram on Saturday. “I think they will reduce the number to some extent.”

Harper goes on offensive amid Senate scandal

CALGARY - Prime Minister Stephen Harper struck out against a trio of defiant senators, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, and the "elites" who have tried to stand in his way, in a sharply worded campaign-style speech Friday to the party's rank-and-file.

Harper's 45-minute remarks included only a brief reference to the main political headache that has shaken his party since May, the Senate expense scandal. He did not acknowledge the coverup allegation that has kept the controversy in the headlines.

The party leader blamed the "courts" for standing in the way of Senate reform. He appeared to be referring to a recent Quebec appeal court ruling — the Supreme Court of Canada has yet to give its opinion on how to achieve change in the upper chamber.

CN train derails in Alberta; tanker with dangerous goods among derailed cars

CN says there were no injuries after 13 cars on an eastbound train derailed in Alberta early Sunday morning near the hamlet of Peers, about two hours west of Edmonton.

Of the 13 derailed cars, 12 were loaded with lumber and one tanker car was carrying dangerous goods. A spokesperson for the train company told the tanker car containing sulphur dioxide was upright and not leaking, thus not prompting any environmental concerns.

The train, which had 137 cars total, derailed around 1 a.m. and emergency crews arrived shortly thereafter to secure the scene.

Original Article
Author: Ishmael N. Daro

Harper's Seven-Year War on Science

Chris Turner's The War on Science: Muzzled Scientists and Wilful Blindness in Stephen Harper's Canada is a solidly researched, well-written book that had to be published. But the people who should read it are not interested in what it tells them about themselves.

If anything has marked the seven years of Conservative rule, it's been the Tories' willingness to repudiate not just previous Liberal and Progressive Conservative governments, but the whole of history since the 18th-century Enlightenment. They're a political vindication of Newton: for every action, there's an equal and opposite reaction.

Dan Pfeiffer: 'Anyone Who Leaks Has To Pay The Price'

Dan Pfeiffer, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, dismissed reports on the alleged consideration of replacing Vice President Joe Biden on the ticket with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 2012 presidential campaign, but acknowledged that the administration is "frustrated" with internal leaks.

Speaking on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Pfeiffer said the reports from "Double Down," a new book by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on the 2012 campaign, were unfounded.