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.]

Thursday, February 27, 2014

TransCanada Pipeline Safety Audit Underscores Concerns: Council Of Canadians

CALGARY - Problems flagged in the National Energy Board's audit of TransCanada Corp.'s pipeline safety practices should have Canadians worried, a group fighting that company's proposed Energy East pipeline said Tuesday.

The audit report, released Monday, found TransCanada (TSX:TRP) to be non-compliant in four of nine areas it examined: hazard identification, risk assessment and control; operational control in upset or abnormal operating condition; inspection, measurement and monitoring, and management review.

Canada's Richest Have Gotten Richer. The Poorest? Well...

A new report on Canadian finances shows the rich have nearly doubled their net wealth over the span of 13 years while the poor have -- you guessed it -- gotten poorer.

Statistics Canada’s survey of financial security, conducted between September and November 2012, revealed the poorest 20 per cent of Canadians have seen their median net worth remain unchanged since 2005, and decline since 1999.

Three apartheid policies enforced by Israel today

As previously discussed, apartheid refers to a system of discriminatory polices which divide a population along racial lines and give superior treatment to one race over another. The objective of these inhumane laws is to maintain the domination of one race. The system of apartheid implemented by Israel in the Palestinian territories is designed to oppress Palestinian Arabs and give preferential treatment to Israeli Jews. We will now explore the different apartheid policies enforced by Israel (Note: Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) refers to East Jerusalem, West Bank and the Gaza Strip which have been under Israeli occupation since 1967)

Supreme Court Makes Big Decision On When Cops Can Enter Your Home

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that police may search a home without a warrant when two occupants disagree about allowing officers to enter, and the resident who refuses access is then arrested.

The justices declined to extend an earlier ruling denying entry to police when the occupants disagree and both are present.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote the court's 6-3 decision holding that an occupant may not object to a search when he is not at home.

Toward a nuanced, feminist discussion on Venezuela

If you’re paying attention to international news, you may have noticed that there’s something happening in Venezuela. And depending on what news sources you’re reading, you might be hearing extremely different things. What you’ll have trouble hearing, though, is a nuanced perspective that doesn’t either dismiss or glorify my homeland’s socialist government. So I guess I’m gonna try to write it.

To be honest, I’m quite hesitant to talk Venezuelan politics publicly. I’ve found people’s reactions to be extremely polarized, and the subject matter too deeply personal for me to easily brush off. But the last week has been so brutal, and the coverage so extremely lacking, that it feels imperative to put fear aside and share the little piece I have to contribute. I’m particularly interested in leftist movements’ ability to hold leftist governments accountable when their actions are oppressive, in our ability to have a nuanced conversation about the ways the folks we prop up as heroes fail us. And I’m interested in talking about how, even in the face of complete failure on major issues of gender equity and justice, leftist projects can remain darlings in the eyes of our social movements.

Stephen Harper's Income Splitting Tune Shifts Again

OTTAWA - The Conservative caucus appears to have put some woolly socks on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's cold feet on income splitting, convincing him to stick with a key campaign promise despite his finance minister's public reservations.

After Harper suggested earlier this month that he might be having second thoughts, the message from the prime minister changed this week to one of again embracing the concept.

Who Are We to Define Democracy for the Ukraine?

As a preeminent journalist of unquestionable pedigree, I am puzzled by the lack of context offered by the National Post's editor-at-large Diane Francis in her most recent Huffington Post blog.

A distinguished professor at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University in Toronto, a Visiting Fellow at Harvard University's Shorenstein Center, a Media Fellow at the World Economic Forum, a media advisor to graduate student teams at Singularity University in the NASA Research Park in Silicon Valley, she doesn't mention that Ukraine is a country cut in half by cultural and economic division.

There are the Russian speaking, Orthodox people in the eastern part of the country, in the economic driving centers of Ukraine like Kharkiv, Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk. And the more impoverished, largely Catholic, places in the West such as Lviv and Uzhgorod. The capital Kyiv is smack dab in the middle of the country that is divided geographically by the river Dnieper which runs through the center of Ukraine. The people in Crimea, in the south, are pro-Russian.

Medvedev Questions Legitimacy Of Ukraine's New Government

MOSCOW (AP) — A successful Olympics behind him, President Vladimir Putin is facing what may become the most dramatic challenge of his rule: how to respond to the turmoil in Ukraine, a country he has declared vital for Russia's interests, which is home to millions of Russian-speakers and hosts a major Russian navy base.

Some in Ukraine's Russian-speaking east and south already have begged the Kremlin to help protect them against what they fear could be violence by the victorious protesters who toppled Ukraine's Moscow-backed leader. Putin has refrained from taking a public stance on Ukraine amid the Sochi Games, but the mounting tensions could quickly leave him with a stark choice: Stick to diplomacy and risk losing face at home, or open a Pandora's box by entering the fray.

Canada leads World Bank corruption list

More corrupt isn’t the kind of reputation Canada is looking for on the global stage.
Unfortunately, Canada leads on the World Bank's running list of people and companies barred from receiving financing under its fraud and corruption policy.
As it stands today, Canada has the most new entries on the list, with the addition of 119 people and companies. All but two of those total entries are from SNC-Lavalin and affiliated companies, a World Bank spokesman said Wednesday.

David Samson’s Tangled Web at the Port

Here’s an ironic example, uncovered by Christie Watch, of how tangled is the web involving Chris Christie, the Port Authority, its chairman David Samson, and Wolff & Samson: A key former member of Governor Chris Christie’s cabinet, who now works for the powerhouse and well-connected law firm Wolff & Samson, is overseeing a contract handed out to Wolff & Samson in August 2013 to audit the distribution of Sandy aid. Lori Grifa, who once headed Christie’s Department of Community Affairs, is the Wolff & Samson attorney in question, and it turns out that she also lobbied for the approval of the $1 billion development project in Hoboken that is at the center of charges that the administration threatened to withhold Sandy aid to Hoboken unless Mayor Dawn Zimmer approved the project.

20 Years Ago, an Army Veteran Reported a Sexual Assault. She’s Still Waiting for Justice.

When Brenda Hoster publicly accused the sergeant major of the Army of sexually assaulting her, it nearly destroyed her life. She thought it would be worth it.

“I felt like what I did was the right thing, the ethical thing, not just for me but for all military men and women,” Hoster, a retired sergeant major and public affairs specialist, said in one of two phone conversations. Her complaints against the Army’s top enlisted soldier were part of a wave of sex scandals that rocked the military in the 1990s. Today, Congress is still debating how to best reform the military justice system.

“Nothing’s changed. Why is that?” asked Hoster. “I feel like my journey was for nothing.”

Venezuela and the Hypocrisy of the International Left

As students and the middle class protest for almost two weeks in the streets of Venezuela, the international left remain silent. Why is this wide swath of Venezuelan society protesting? Because of meddling from the United States in preparation of a fascist coup, says Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. Certainly lines borrowed from the Cuban/Soviet handbook.
Venezuelans are protesting because of 56 percent inflation, one of the highest in the world. Venezuelans are protesting because they have one of the highest murder rates in the world, 25,000 violent deaths last year, one person killed every twenty minutes. The murder rate in Caracas is 122 per 100,000, numbers not seen in war zones. They are in the streets because they don't have basic necessities such as bread, meat, toilet paper, electricity... the list is long.

Canada's Real Problem with Intrusive Foreign Interests

How much is Canada worth? About $33 trillion according to one recent reckoning, based only on our oil and timber resources. Those two commodities alone make Canada the fourth richest country on Earth, and number two on a per capita basis -- just behind Saudi Arabia. Divided between 35 million Canadians, every one of us is close to being a millionaire. Like the TV commercial says, you're richer than you think.

That $33 trillion does not include any of Canada's natural gas, wheat, fish, gold, potash or diamonds. Yet according to some bean counters, Alberta's oil sands and conventional oil reserves are worth more than all other Canadian resources put together -- a staggering $21 trillion.

Trayvon's Legacy: How Diversity Hides Racism

It is the age of Barack Obama, the age of Trayvon Martin; a son of Africa lives in the White House, a boy's life ends in Florida for the crime of walking home with a bag of sweets.

This summer we will mark the 50th anniversaries of Freedom Summer and the Civil Rights Act, next year Selma and the Voting Rights Act. On each occasion we will ask whether we yet judge each other by the content of our character rather than the colour of our skin. The answer, of course, is no -- and yes.

Canada's middle class 'mortgaging its future' with debt

Canada's middle-class is mortgaging its future to stay afloat, making the Canadian dream "a myth more than a reality."

That's the blunt assessment of an internal Conservative government report, an unvarnished account of the plight of middle-income families that's in contrast to the rosier economic picture in this month's budget.

Chinese Shift: Put the Environment Above GDP Growth

Qin Guangrong is the Communist Party Secretary of Yunnan Province, China

KUNMING -- Ecological and environmental issues have become strategic issues with a global bearing. As vividly put by some experts, if the 4-billion-year history of the Earth could be compressed to just 100 years, the most primitive plants and animals would only begin to appear in its 50s, and large reptiles like dinosaurs when the Earth hit 95 years of age.

Inequality, Productivity and WhatsApp

If you ever wonder what’s fueling America’s staggering inequality, ponder Facebook’s acquisition of the mobile messaging company WhatsApp.

According to news reports, Facebook has agreed to buy WhatsApp for $19 billion.

That’s the highest price paid for a startup in history. It’s $3 billion more than Facebook raised when it was first listed, and more than twice what Microsoft paid for Skype.

#LaSalida? Venezuela at a Crossroads

Ukraine. Bosnia. Venezuela.

Tear gas. Masks. Water cannons.

Ours is an age of riots and rebellions, of radical self-creation in the heady streets: Spain’s indignados, the Occupy movement, Mexico’s Yo Soy 132, and of course the Arab Spring. We are understandably excited when we see people in the streets, and our pulse may even rise at the sight of masks, broken glass and flames, because for so long such images have represented the shards of the old world through which we can catch the perceptible glint of the new. Recent protests in Venezuela against the government of Chávez successor Nicolás Maduro might therefore seem to be simply the latest act in an upsurge of world-historic proportions.

Not so fast.

UAW Asks Labor Board For New Volkswagen Election, Citing 'Threats' By GOP Lawmakers

WASHINGTON -- After a narrow and devastating loss at the Chattanooga Volkswagen plant last week, the United Auto Workers union has asked the federal labor board to set aside the election results because of "a firestorm of interference" from outside groups and politicians, including Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn).

The union submitted its appeal to the National Labor Relations Board on Friday, according to a UAW press release. Labor board officials will now have to consider whether the statements by lawmakers interfered enough to potentially sway votes and taint the election. The board could essentially order a do-over.

Rick Perry: The Minimum Wage Is Not 'The Government's Business'

Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) let loose on his minimum wage views Friday, saying it's not "the government's business" to be setting that policy.

In a Friday appearance on CNN's "Crossfire," Perry sparred with Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn (D) on the issue, citing the CBO's Tuesday report that estimates 500,000 jobs could be lost if the minimum wage were raised.

"At a time when jobs are at a premium in this country, the last thing you want to be doing is putting policies into place that would kill jobs," Perry said.

Quinn struck back, citing a Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago assessment that every $1 raise to the minimum wage creates $2,800 in purchasing power.

"Let's put more money in the pocket," Quinn said.

Perry and Quinn's debate came hours ahead of President Barack Obama's weekly address calling on Congress to vote on the minimum wage issue. The bill the president was referencing would raise the current wage to $10.10 per hour.

"Hardworking Americans deserve better than 'no,'" Obama said. "Let’s tell Congress to say 'yes.' Pass that bill. Give America a raise. Because here in America, no one who works hard should have to live in poverty – and everyone who works hard should have a chance to get ahead."

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post | by Chris Gentilviso

Exxon CEO Comes Out Against Fracking Project Because It Will Affect His Property Values

As ExxonMobil’s CEO, it’s Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. The oil company is the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S., relying on the controversial drilling technology to extract it.
The exception is when Tillerson’s $5 million property value might be harmed. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.

The Battle for Kiev

Odessa, Ukraine—The Ukrainian government and the president certainly have much to answer for. They permitted radicals to build a heavily armed encampment smack in the very heart of the nation’s capital and in violation of three separate court orders, all just a few yards away from the main government buildings. They have repeatedly given in to the intimidation of roving bands of armed and masked hooligans who, having now become a law unto themselves, endanger the lives of peaceful citizens. Just before the most recent spate of violence, during the “peaceful” interlude that followed the president’s last amnesty offer, for example, law enforcement officials stood by as a civic initiative known as “Kievans for a Clean City” was brutally assaulted near the Maidan.

Greek Financial Crisis Tied To Country's Rising Rates Of HIV, Depression, Infant Deaths

LONDON - Researchers say they have found new evidence that Greece's financial crisis is taking a toll on the health of its citizens, including rising rates of HIV, tuberculosis, depression and even infant deaths.

Since the economic crisis hit several years ago, the government's health spending has been slashed and hundreds of thousands of people have been left without health insurance. As cuts have been made to AIDS prevention programs, rates of HIV and tuberculosis in drug users have spiked.

CSIS still the cat in the birdcage

A few years ago, Canada's bird lovers came in for some well-deserved looks of bemusement when many wondered why their cute little budgies and canaries kept disappearing every time a cat was placed inside their birdcages. After all, it was argued, cats were subject to significant and robust oversight mechanisms such as the Feline Activities Review Committee, to ensure the birds would be safe from purring predators.
That refusal to recognize the nature of the beast also infects the ongoing discussions within the "national security industrial-academic-media complex" about what to do with the fact that Canada's spy agency, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), along with its next-door neighbor, the Communications Security Establishment Canada (CSEC), continue invading the privacy rights of people at home and abroad and violating the law (not to mention committing perjury in front of Federal Court judges and aiding and abetting acts of torture).

Venezuela Cuts Off Internet, Blocks Communication For Protestors

LIMA, Peru (AP) — The battle for Venezuela is being fought as vigorously online as in the streets, with authorities cutting off the Internet to a clash-torn university city and blocking selected websites and a "walkie-talkie" service widely used by protesters.

A local TV reporter in San Cristobal, capital of the western border state of Tachira, said Thursday night that she could hear gunshots as teargas-firing police broke up protests just as they had the night before when Internet service was cut.

Oilsands Tailings Seeping Into Groundwater, Athabasca River: Federal Study

EDMONTON - New federal research has strongly backed suspicions that toxic chemicals from Alberta's vast oilsands tailings ponds are leaching into groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River.

Leakage from oilsands tailings ponds, which now cover 176 square kilometres, has long been an issue. Industry has acknowledged that seepage can occur and previous studies using models have estimated it at 6.5 million litres a day from a single pond.

Arctic Reindeer Reserve Offered Up For Oil, Gas Exploration: Documents

OTTAWA - Tracts of land that had been set aside for reindeer grazing in Canada's North have instead been offered up by the Conservative government for oil and gas exploration, newly released documents show.

Companies interested in obtaining petroleum exploration rights in the Mackenzie Delta and Beaufort Sea region of the Northwest Territories were asked last year to nominate blocks of land that they wanted to see included in a subsequent call for bids.

Venezuela Protests Continue As Violence Escalates

CARACAS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Security forces faced off with demonstrators in streets blocked by burning barricades in several Venezuelan cities on Thursday in an escalation of protests against President Nicolas Maduro's socialist government, witnesses said.

At least five people have died since protests turned violent last week, with scores injured and arrested.

The demonstrators, mainly students, blame the government for violent crime, high inflation, shortages of many products and the alleged repression of opponents.

United Airlines Cuts 240 Jobs In Canada, Outsources Them

CHICAGO - United Airlines says it is cutting 240 jobs in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary.

The U.S.-based airlines says the jobs, which include customer service agents and ramp agents, will now be outsourced.

There will be 95 jobs affected in Toronto; 84 in Vancouver and 61 in Calgary.

The cuts will become effective in three months.

United says the announcement does not have any effect on the number of flights the airline operates in Canada.

Company spokesperson Christen David said in an email that the cuts were difficult but necessary decisions for the airline to run a "more efficient and financially sustainable business."

Original Article
Author: CP

The vultures are circling over Canada Post

We have all been told that Canada Post is facing an impending crisis and that there is no alternative but to simply accept dramatic price increases, the end of home mail delivery and the loss of 8,000 living-wage jobs. We now know that this is a lie. A recent Access to Information request to Canada Postreveals that the crown corporation spent four years studying the idea of postal banking, declaring it a "proven diversification strategy." As it turns out, Canada Post management had developed a plan to save Canada Post -- and they decided to kill it instead. Why?

'Profiting Without Producing' stands to restrain finance and fight for socialism

Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All

by Costas Lapavitsas
(Verso Books, 
Economics professor Costas Lapavitsas' new book Profiting Without Producing: How Finance Exploits Us All,delving into the elusive world of finance, that place where fortunes are made seemingly out of nothing, but with such dramatic impact on the world economy. Lapavitsas tackles one of the most innovative and perhaps most controversial concepts in political economy: financialization. Aaron Leonard recently corresponded with professor Lapavitsas via email to ask him about his new book and its wider implications. 

Debunking myths about Canada's middle class

As the Conservatives, NDP and Liberals compete for Canadians' trust, it begs the question: who are they talking about when they say "middle class?"
Who are middle class Canadians and is it true that this socioeconomic group is disappearing? This Globe and Mail article on the subject says it well, "Rather than shrinking wages, there is evidence to suggest the middle itself is being hollowed out. The proportion of people in middle-income families has shrunk since the mid-1990s, while a share of those at the lower and higher ends rose, Statistics Canada data show."

Ukraine Protests: Truce Fails To End Battles Between Police, Demonstrators

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) -- Fearing that a call for a truce was a ruse, protesters tossed firebombs and advanced upon police lines Thursday in Ukraine's embattled capital. Government snipers shot back and the almost-medieval melee that ensued left at least 33 people dead.

Video footage on Ukrainian television showed shocking scenes Thursday of protesters being cut down by gunfire, lying on the pavement as comrades rushed to their aid. Trying to protect themselves with shields, teams of protesters carried bodies away on sheets of plastic or on planks of wood.

At US Science Confab, Two Energy Futures Duel Across the Hall

A short stroll across the hall at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Chicago was a leap across a wide, wide, wide, philosophical chasm -- from a belief that humans can change, to one where they can't.

While one group of researchers explored the possibility of reducing greenhouse gas emissions 80 per cent by 2050, the other group took on the Canadian environment versus economy debate about the Alberta oilsands.

In the emissions session, speakers treated the audience to a couple of useful and thoughtful critiques. Peter Loftus of Primaira LLC, a product development and commercialization company full of engineers, designers, and technicians based in Woburn, Massachusetts (they work on innovative appliance design, medical devices, food waste management, and other products), shared his review of major studies that map ways to drastically reduce emissions in less than 40 years.

For Refugees, Starting Over Just Got Harder

In six weeks, refugees arriving in British Columbia will no longer receive free help to cope with the traumas they endured before fleeing to Canada.

The change comes after Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) denied funding to refugee mental health services in B.C. As a result, organisations that have been offering free counselling programs for years will be forced to shut their doors to refugees effective as of March 31, 2014.

Turns Out Anti-Union Volkswagen Workers May Have Screwed Themselves And The South

Volkswagen employees may have made a huge mistake when they rejected union membership on Friday.

Employees at VW's Chattanooga plant voted against representation by United Auto Workers, leaving the factory as the only Volkswagen plant worldwide without a formal mechanism for workers' representation.

The German "co-determination" model mandates works councils, which connect employees to management, at all large German companies. Following the union vote, the head of Volkswagen's works council told German newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung that the automaker would hesitate to expand in the U.S. South.

Just How Dangerous Is A Giant Comcast?

It's been more than 100 years since the U.S. Supreme Court determined that one of the biggest companies in the world, Standard Oil, was an illegal monopoly and would have to be broken apart.

The size of the company didn't automatically violate antitrust law, the court ruled. Rather, it was the way it wielded that size that was a problem. The oil behemoth forced railroads to slash prices and agree to preferential deals to ship its products, driving smaller competitors out of business. Standard Oil came to control 90 percent of U.S. oil production through these methods, and the court determined that this led to higher prices and less oil, harming the overall market.

"I Don't Want to Create a Paper Trail": Inside the Secret Apple-Google Pact

Whether waxing poetic about net neutrality or defending the merits of outsourcing, Silicon Valley execs love to talk about how a free market breeds innovation. So it might come as a surprise that some of those execs were engaged in a secret pact not to recruit one another's employees—in other words, to game the labor market. The potentially illegal deals suppressed salaries across the sector by a whopping $3 billion, claims a class-action lawsuit scheduled for a May trial in San Jose, and were done to juice the bottom lines of some of the nation's most profitable companies.

Will a Minimum Wage Hike Really Cost Jobs?

The Congressional Budget Office lobbed a small grenade into the debate over an increased minimum wage on Tuesday, releasing a report that found an increase to $10.10 an hour by 2016 would increase the wages of 25 million Americans, but also cost the economy around 500,000 jobs.

The Comcast-Time Warner Merger Threatens Democracy

Comcast has announced it intends to merge with Time Warner Cable, joining together the largest and second-largest cable and broadband providers in the country. The merger must be approved by both the Justice Department and the FCC. Given the financial and political power of Comcast, and the Obama administration’s miserable record of protecting the public interest, the time to speak out and organize is now.

“This is just such a far-reaching deal, it should be dead on arrival when it gets to the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission for approval,” Michael Copps told me days after the merger announcement. Copps was a commissioner on the FCC from 2001 to 2011, one of the longest-serving commissioners in the agency’s history. Now he leads the Media and Democracy Reform Initiative at Common Cause. “This is the whole shooting match,” he said. “It’s broadband. It’s broadcast. It’s content. It’s distribution. It’s the medium and the message. It’s telecom, and it’s media, too.” Back in 2011, when Comcast sought regulatory approval of its proposed acquisition of NBC Universal (NBCU), Copps was the sole “no” vote out of the five FCC commissioners.

Loan Complaints by Homeowners Rise Once More

A growing number of homeowners trying to avert foreclosure are confronting problems on a new front as the mortgage industry undergoes a seismic shift.

Shoddy paperwork, erroneous fees and wrongful evictions — the same abuses that dogged the nation’s largest banks and led to a $26 billion settlement with federal authorities in 2012 — are now cropping up among the specialty firms that collect mortgage payments, according to dozens of foreclosure lawsuits and interviews with borrowers, federal and state regulators and housing lawyers.

Judge Strikes Down Law Allowing Keystone XL Pipeline To Run Through Nebraska

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — A Nebraska judge on Wednesday struck down a law that allowed the Keystone XL pipeline to proceed through the state, a victory for opponents who have tried to block the project that would carry oil from Canada to Texas refineries.

Lancaster County Judge Stephanie Stacy issued a ruling that invalidated Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman's approval of the route. Stacy agreed with opponents' arguments that the law passed in 2012 improperly allowed Heineman to give Calgary-based TransCanada Corp. the power to force landowners to sell their property for the project. Stacy said the decision to give TransCanada eminent domain powers should have been made by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, which regulates pipelines and other utilities.


Imagine that you are the judge asked to sentence a convict named Shon Hopwood, a twenty-three-year-old Nebraskan who has begged you for leniency and sworn he will change his ways. Hopwood has made a full and honest confession of all his crimes and can point to two years of service in the Navy, his past as a basketball star in high school, and a seemingly earnest repentance and desire to change. But he has also robbed five banks, brandishing a gun, and spent the proceeds on alcohol and drugs.

Rex Murphy's Oil Sands Speeches Prompt CBC Ethics Review

CBC is looking at requiring freelancers to disclose their speaking fees amid questions about Rex Murphy's speeches on the oilsands, The Vancouver Observer reports.

Murphy, who hosts CBC's "Cross-Country Checkup" and sometimes appears as a commentator on "The National", is at the centre of controversy after iPolitics columnist Andrew Mitrovica began researching the pundit's speaking gigs.

"I found that Murphy has made several speeches to oil-friendly audiences who lap up his cheerleading about the industry and his wisecracks about Neil Young, environmentalists and do-nothing Easterners, including his CBC colleagues."

FCC Says It Will Rewrite Net Neutrality Rules

WASHINGTON, Feb 19 (Reuters) - U.S. federal regulators will once again try to set rules that make sure broadband providers do not block or slow access to content on the Internet, or charge content providers like Netflix or Amazon for faster Web service.

The Federal Communications Commission's plan for new so-called "Net neutrality" rules comes a month after a U.S. court struck down their previous iteration, which was the second court's rejection of the rules.

Texas District Attorney Candidate: Domestic Violence Is 'So, So Overrated'

Lloyd Oliver, a Democratic candidate for district attorney in Harris County, Texas, has a problem with domestic violence: He thinks it's prosecuted too much.

Oliver told the Texas Observer Wednesday that domestic violence is "so, so overrated." If elected, he indicated he'd redirect resources away from family violence to focus on other issues.

Harris County has the highest rate of domestic violence homicides in the state. According to a report by the Texas Council on Family Violence, 30 women were murdered by intimate partners in 2012.

Oliver lost the district attorney's race in 2012 narrowly. After winning the Democratic primary, he came within five points of winning the district attorney's seat.

This isn't the first time Oliver has come under fire for comments on domestic violence.

In a 2012 appearance on "Reasonable Doubts," a weekly call-in show sponsored by the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, Oliver said domestic violence victims should "maybe learn how to box a little better."

Later, when asked to clarify, he suggested domestic violence is part of some couple's sexual routine.

"There are some people -- I don't understand it -- but part of their making love is to beat one another up first," he said. "Why do we want to get involved in people's bedrooms?"

Oliver faces Kim Ogg, a former prosecutor, in the Democratic primary on March 4.

Original Article
Author: The Huffington Post  | by  Melissa Jeltsen

Wisconsin Court Releases Thousands Of Scott Walker Aide Emails

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The investigation into illegal campaign activity by members of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's staff when he was working as a county executive greatly expanded the day before Walker was elected governor in 2010, previously secret documents released Wednesday show.

The transcript of a closed-door hearing before a judge overseeing the probe into Walker's aides was among more than 27,000 pages of emails and other documents released by a state appeals court.

The Associated Press and other media organizations pressed for them to be made public.

BC Gov't Brags Budget Keeps Taxes Low, but for Whom?

British Columbia Finance Minister Mike de Jong today presented what he characterized as a "boring balanced budget" while forecasting more spending in coming years and setting out a framework for taxing the promised liquefied natural gas industry.

He boasted of B.C. having the lowest income taxes in Canada, though budget documents show the total provincial tax burden goes up significantly when Medical Services Plan premiums and other fees are included.

"We continue to balance essentially on a razor's edge," de Jong told reporters and observers at the Victoria conference centre.

How Much Does Western Canada Subsidize Fracking?

The technique of horizontal drilling has doubled or even tripled the percentage of crude oil that industry now extracts from formerly uneconomic basins in Western Canada.

Of about 3,000 oil wells planted in Alberta in 2012, 77 per cent were horizontal wells that blasted tight rocks with multi-stage hydraulic fracturing to coax out hydrocarbons, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator.

Rob Ford may have broken election rules, rival says

Rob Ford's rival in the 2014 campaign has filed a freedom of information request to determine whether the mayor is breaking election rules.

Candidate David Soknacki is asking for the release of schedules, memos, and other communications by Ford and five of his staffers in order to determine whether the mayor’s office is being used as an unofficial campaign headquarters.

"We're not doing it just as a fishing expedition," said Soknacki’s campaign manager Brian Kelcey, who filed the request at City Hall on Tuesday. "We believe that there's reasonable cause to suspect or at least inquire as to whether there are campaign activities taking place, or campaign conversations taking place in the mayor's office."

George Soros Bet $1.3 Billion The Stock Market Will Fall

George Soros, the billionaire hedge-fund manager who has broken the British pound and some Republican hearts, is betting that the U.S. stock market could break, too.

Soros Fund Management had $1.3 billion worth of options at the end of 2013 that pay off if the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index falls, the Bullion Baron blog reported last week, citing the fund's latest regulatory filing. It was Soros' biggest position, making up 11 percent of his fund's holdings.

The filing is a snapshot of Soros' position at the end of the fourth quarter of 2013. He might have raised or lowered that bet since then. He might also be using the position to hedge some other bet. He's certainly not going to tell us. Closing out the bet would have made some sense in the middle of February, after the S&P had fallen more than 5 percent for the year.

Corporate Cronyism: The Secret to Overpaid CEOs

It's hardly a secret that the heads of major corporations in the United States get mind-bending paychecks. High pay may be understandable when a top executive turns around a failing company or vastly expands a company's revenue and profit, but CEOs can get paychecks in the tens or hundreds of millions even when they did nothing especially notable.

For example, Lee Raymond retired from Exxon-Mobil in 2005 with $321 million. (That's 22,140 minimum wage work years.) His main accomplishment for the company was sitting at its head at a time when a quadrupling of oil prices sent profits soaring. Hank McKinnel walked away from Pfizer in 2006 with $166 million. It would be hard to identify his outstanding accomplishments.

Violent Protests Flare In Kiev After New Maneuvers By Russia And EU

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Amid cries of "Glory to Ukraine!" and with flaming tires lighting up the night sky, thousands of riot police armed with stun grenades and water cannons attacked the sprawling protest camp in the center of Kiev on Tuesday, following a day of street battles that left 18 people dead and hundreds injured.

The violence was the deadliest in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine's capital in a struggle over the nation's identity, and the worst in the country's post-Soviet history

What Really Happens When You Raise The Minimum Wage

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a new report on Tuesday on the impacts of raising the minimum wage to $10.10 an hour and $9 an hour. It found that a $10.10 minimum wage, implemented by 2016, would mean higher earnings for 16.5 million workers, resulting in $31 billion more in higher earnings. It would also lift nearly 1 million people out of poverty.

Former Romney Adviser Explains That The Rich Are Basically Superheroes

Robert Downey Jr. is wealthy, therefore all wealthy people are Robert Downey Jr.

If you submitted that argument to your logic professor, you would get a big, red "F." But Harvard economics professor Gregory Mankiw essentially made the same argument in The New York Times this weekend, part of his long-running campaign to convince the world that the super-wealthy are simply better than all the rest of us.

Respect China's Red Lines

SHANGHAI -- Sino-Japanese relations have never been so precarious since the two sides established diplomatic ties in 1972. Many observers now even compare the situation to that in Europe a century ago when the First World War was about to rage across the continent. This scenario may be exaggerated, as neither Beijing, nor Tokyo, nor Washington wants a war in the region. But Beijing-Tokyo relations are indeed experiencing a dangerous drift.

While the Western media seem to focus on what they perceive as a more assertive China, most Chinese blame Japan for the Sino-Japanese predicament, and the Chinese view deserves some attention.

Ukraine Riot Police Move In Against Kiev Protest Camp; Death Toll Rises From Clashes

KIEV, Ukraine (AP) — Defiant protesters shouted "Glory to Ukraine" as burning tents lit up the night sky after thousands of riot police moved against the sprawling protest camp in the center of Kiev on Tuesday.

The police, armed with stun grenades and water cannons, attacked the camp after at least 13 people — including six officers — died and hundreds were injured in street clashes. The violence was the deadliest in nearly three months of anti-government protests that have paralyzed Ukraine's capital in a struggle over the nation's identity.

The Age of the Single-Issue, Mega-Donor Political Party Has Arrived

A California environmental activist hopes to raise $100 million to elect politicians who will fight climate change. A center-right Republican is forming a PAC of "mega-donors" who will back Republicans that support gay marriage and immigration reform. With spending rules and political norms loosened, wealthy Americans are adding their own circles to America's political Venn diagram.

Wages not keeping pace with rising cost of living in Regina

Proposed property tax, water and sewer cost increases in the City of Regina budget are only a few examples of how expensive it is getting for people to call Regina home.

The list of proposed increases includes $108 this year in property taxes for the average homeowner, $120 for water and sewer (eight per cent) and, depending on the type of vehicle you drive and your driving record, as much as $49 more for auto insurance with SGI.