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, April 24, 2014

Some Countries Realize You Have A Life Outside Work. The U.S. Isn't One Of Them.

Working in the U.S. ain't what it used to be.

While other countries are coming up with new ways to promote work-life balance, such as France's latest move to limit after-hours email, the U.S. seems to be falling behind. It's been some time since the nation once responsible for creating weekends and the 40-hour work week made any sweeping changes to improve the working lives of its greatest living resource: people.

GM Delayed Recall For Years Despite Thousands Of Complaints, Documents Show

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors waited years to recall nearly 335,000 Saturn Ions for power steering failures despite getting thousands of consumer complaints and more than 30,000 warranty repair claims, according to government documents released Saturday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the government's auto safety watchdog, also didn't seek a recall of the compact car from the 2004 through 2007 model years even though it opened an investigation more than two years ago and found 12 crashes and two injuries caused by the problem.

Wife of Canada's prime minister shows callous disregard for missing and murdered women

The wife of Canada's prime minister has been caught out on the issue of the hundreds of women who have gone missing or whose murders are unsolved in Canada over the past four decades, many of whom are Aboriginal. Laureen Harper challenged a 21 year old activist who interrupted her speech at a black-tie event in Toronto on April 17 that was raising funds for… stray cats.

Hobby Lobby Leaders Hope To Spread Bible Course To Thousands Of Schools

The president of a company that is currently challenging Obamacare laws before the Supreme Court is also trying to bring a class about the Bible to thousands of schools.

Earlier this week, Mustang Public Schools in Oklahoma voted to adopt a Bible course developed under the leadership of Hobby Lobby president Steve Green, according to The Washington Post. Those involved with the course told the outlet they hope other school districts will soon follow suit.


In 1952, an African-American woman named Sarah Bulah filed a lawsuit challenging the segregated education system in her home state of Delaware. Bulah lived near a spacious, modern, whites-only high school, but her daughter, Shirley, was forced to attend a decrepit, single-room school. The state provided transportation only for white students, so Bulah had to drive her daughter to and from school each day, even though the bus route ran right past her home. Hundreds of other black parents in the area faced the same situation, yet Bulah’s decision to mount a legal challenge was met with scorn. Her neighbors disagreed with her, while local black teachers voiced their own disapproval. Bulah’s pastor doubted the wisdom of her actions. “I was for segregation,” he later remarked.

Turkish Activists Say Their Country Is Sliding Backward On Women's Rights

ISTANBUL -- There are few things that shock Pinar Ilkkaracan, one of Turkey’s most prominent women activists. For three decades, she has battled what she describes as stifling sexism and stubborn politicians. But in 2010, in a revealing moment she says still haunts her, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Ilkkaracan and dozens of representatives from Turkey’s top women’s organizations that he simply does not believe in gender equality. It was a shocking blow to her lifetime of work.

Something Fishy Has Happened At Amazon Over The Last 2 Years

LONDON, April 18 (Reuters) - The amount of money Inc reports through a tax-exempt vehicle in Europe has dropped sharply in the past two years, even as European sales jumped, after the U.S. tax authority tightened rules it felt were being abused to shift profits.

Amazon minimises its tax bill by having the U.S. unit which owns its technology licences lease the rights to re-license the technology to a tax-exempt partnership based in Luxembourg.

How The Clinton White House Played Politics With The Minimum Wage

Democrats in Congress and a clear majority of Americans would like to raise the minimum wage and tie it to an inflation index so that it keeps up with the cost of living. This concept -- known as indexing -- is something of a holy grail for backers of a strong minimum wage, since it would eliminate the need to constantly re-legislate new increases to the wage floor.

The idea isn't new. In the late 1990's, Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.) had championed legislation that would have indexed the minimum wage and kept it from eroding over time. His efforts failed.

Salvation Gets Cheap

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which pools the efforts of scientists around the globe, has begun releasing draft chapters from its latest assessment, and, for the most part, the reading is as grim as you might expect. We are still on the road to catastrophe without major policy changes.

But there is one piece of the assessment that is surprisingly, if conditionally, upbeat: Its take on the economics of mitigation. Even as the report calls for drastic action to limit emissions of greenhouse gases, it asserts that the economic impact of such drastic action would be surprisingly small. In fact, even under the most ambitious goals the assessment considers, the estimated reduction in economic growth would basically amount to a rounding error, around 0.06 percent per year.

‘Private interests’ in the Senate: How business conflicts are everywhere in Canada’s top legislative body

In the dry tone reserved for routine business, Senator Larry Campbell made a note for the parliamentary record: “I believe that I have a private interest that might be affected by Bill C-290.”

The bill, still awaiting the Senate’s approval, would allow Canadians to bet on individual sporting events; currently, legitimate establishments allow wagers on the outcomes of three combined games. This increases the odds of losing, which discourages gambling, which is why the industry wants a change.

Capital and Captain America

Sometimes the biggest things hide in plain sight.

This thought occurred to me in the midst of Captain America: Winter Soldier, a long, overblown and distinctly uninteresting piece of work. It resembles a giant colouring book more than a film. The outlines are already there, all you need to do is fill them in.

The film trots about doing just that, in rote repetition, just like the many comic book film adaptations before and after it. They are lined up like planes on a runway at the moment: The X-Men Again Already, Spider-Man 11, Defenders of the Galaxy, Transformers 2.0, Godzilla Gets Stompy, etcetera. The only thing that sets Winter Soldier apart from the rest of the ilk is the whiff of conspiracy theory that attends the plot.

'A System Designed to Be Controlled by the Centre'

Sarah Berman: In the introduction to Tragedy in the Commons, you say you didn't start out asking MPs about party discipline. Can you tell me about the moment you decided to pursue it? How did it come up?

Alison Loat: "Backing up a little bit, when Michael and I set out to conduct these interviews, we certainly weren't thinking of a book, and we didn't have preconceived notions about what MPs would say.

Ottawa's Command and Control Antics

Parliamentary voting records reveal that most MPs side with their parties on nearly every vote; but, in recalling their time in Ottawa, the MPs we interviewed wanted to make it clear that they had often felt heavily constrained. And most made a point of telling us about times when they didn't agree with their party, or had sought a concession such as permission to miss a vote in order to help manage their discomfort with the party line.

In fact, almost all the recollections they volunteered were concerned with what it was like to be a member of a political party. And they weren't good. Time and time again, MPs told us how decisions made by party leadership seemed opaque, arbitrary and even juvenile, and how party demands inhibited their ability to serve their constituents.

We Built This Country on Inequality

I admit to tuning out most conversations surrounding income and/or wealth inequality in the United States. It’s not because I don’t find these conversations important; they are vital. The problem is that I always hear the issue of inequality situated around what has happened in the last thirty or forty years, which ignores the fact this is a nation built on inequality. The wealth gap didn’t spring up from policy gone awry—it is the policy. This country was founded on the idea of concentrating wealth in the hands of a few white men. That that persists today isn’t a flaw in the design. Everything is working as the founders intended.

Average Price For A Single-Family Home In Toronto Passes $1 Million

Economists are coming out with warnings that Canada’s real estate juggernaut is about to come to an end (Scotiabank’s Adrienne Warren is just the latest) and others keep fretting about Canada’s record-high household debt levels, but Toronto residents don’t seem to be listening.
Home sales in the country’s largest metro area roared back to life in the first quarter of 2014, according to data from Realnet Canada, with total sales jumping 60 per cent from the same period a year earlier. Condo sales were up 68 per cent and low-rise homes up 51 per cent.

The Energy Revolution Is In Reverse

BERLIN—Keeping the rise in global average temperatures to no more than 2°C above pre-industrial levels will not be prohibitively expensive, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) says, though it won’t be easy.

There’s just one problem: the atmospheric facts show that the world is not simply ignoring the IPCC. It’s moving smartly away from the clean energy future that the Panel says is attainable towards an inexorably hotter and more risky future.

Mayor Who Fired Lesbian Police Chief Caught On Tape In Homophobic Tirade

WASHINGTON -- The mayor of a tiny South Carolina town has triggered protests, prayer vigils and even a city council vote to weaken his powers after firing longtime police chief Crystal Moore, who is a lesbian and who some believe is a target of the mayor's homophobia.

The controversy over Moore's firing comes at a time when many in Congress are pushing for passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would make it illegal to fire or harass someone at work for being lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.

Here's Why Putin Calling Eastern Ukraine 'Novorossiya' Is Important

A casual listener may have missed it, but many Ukraine-watchers raised their brow when Russian President Vladimir Putin used the weighty term "Novorossiya" or "New Russia" to refer to some regions in Ukraine on Thursday. "It's new Russia," Putin told the audience during his nearly four-hour long televised Q&A. "Kharkiv, Luhansk, Donetsk, Odessa were not part of Ukraine in czarist times, they were transferred in 1920. Why? God knows."

Housing Correction In Canada Could Cause Recession: BMO

OTTAWA - The Bank of Montreal says a sudden and sharp correction in the housing market could have a devastating impact on the Canadian economy overall, enough to trigger another recession.

The analysis by senior economist Sal Guatieri finds that even a 10 per cent correction — what many would call a soft landing — could sap as much as one percentage point from gross domestic product growth.

Guatieri says a 20 per cent or more plunge in prices and homebuilding could send the economy into recessionary territory.

The conclusion stems from an analysis of the contribution of the brisk housing market on the economy between 2002 and 2007, when prices rose five percentage points faster than incomes.

According to the BMO, the rapid escalation in home values and construction activity added 0.56 percentage points to annual growth during those six years.

But now, with home values at or near record levels, a sharp correction would have the opposite effect.

The BMO report does not suggest the housing market will crash, in fact it argues against it, but warns homeowners to manage their debts prudently.

Original Article
Author: CP

The More Canadians Know About The Fair Elections Act, The Less They Like It: Poll

Opposition to the Conservative government's proposed Fair Elections Act (Bill C-23) is widespread and growing, according to a new poll by Angus Reid Global.

The survey, conducted online from April 14-15 and surveying 1,505 Canadians, found that 59 per cent of Canadians who said they were very or fairly familiar with the proposed legislation were opposed to it, an increase of three points since Angus Reid last polled Canadians on the topic in February.

PBO: Temporary Foreign Worker Program May Be Taking 1/4 Of New Jobs

The number of job opportunities in Canada is shrinking, and the temporary foreign worker (TFW) program may be to blame, according to an overlooked comment in a recent report from the Parliamentary Budget Office.

The report also suggests that one-quarter of new jobs in Canada could be going to temporary foreign workers.

Why Jeb Bush's Greatest Political Achievement Could Sink a White House Run

I met Jeb Bush's biggest nightmare during a breakout session at March's Conservative Political Action Conference held outside of DC. In a side room, Phyllis Schlafly, the octogenarian den mother of the religious right, was explaining why attendees should be afraid of a set of national educational standards, little noticed by the national political press, called Common Core. The standards are arguably Bush's biggest political legacy. They are also the source of a rising tide of activism on the political right. One after another, conservative activists in the standing-room-only audience stood up to express their alarm. "If you are a white male boy—God forbid you're Jewish!—you're being targeted and it's very scary," fretted a woman from Texas. "Very scary."

FBI Infiltration Of Gitmo Defense Team Tosses 9/11 Trial Into Disarray

FORT MEADE, Md. -- An FBI investigation into the legal team representing Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed further delayed the military trial of him and his co-defendants in Guantanamo Bay on Thursday.

The full nature and scope of the FBI's investigation is not clear. A security contractor working for the defense team, however, did reportedly talk to FBI agents about Mohammed's manifesto, which was published by The Huffington Post in collaboration with Britain's Channel 4 News. The contractor signed an agreement with the FBI after two agents visited his home nearly two weeks ago, which one defense attorney described as an attempt to "introduce a Trojan Horse behind the wall of attorney-client privilege."

Jim Flaherty’s Troubled Legacy

When former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty died suddenly last week, his stunned colleagues and many political observers reacted with sadness but also with high praise. Those who had known and worked with Flaherty, even as political opponents, remembered him as an effective, personable, loyal, and dedicated public servant.

Many others, though, remember the legacy of a man whose administrations—the Mike Harris government in Ontario, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s federal Conservatives—made a point of accommodating certain Canadians while leaving others behind. The soaring tributes to Flaherty simply don’t ring true for many, particularly those who experienced poverty and marginalization during his 20 years of governance. Flaherty often espoused the view that those struggling to survive in Ontario and across Canada had only themselves to blame.

First Nations-led alternative to Enbridge Northern Gateway faces challenges

After Kitimat rejected the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline proposal on Saturday in a non-binding vote, Vancouver's billionaire Aquilini family and an First Nations-led energy company have stepped up with an $18-billion alternative pipeline project.

Eagle Spirit Energy Holdings and Aquilini Group said their pipeline would carry refined light crude -- not diluted bitumen -- from Alberta to Grassy Point, near Prince Rupert, rather than Kitimat. But while the Aquilini Group and Eagle Spirit say the project is backed by many of BC's 30 First Nations, critics say the the pipeline support may be less far-reaching than news reports suggest.

Americans Think People Are Poor Because Of Bad Breaks, Not Because They're Losers: Poll

WASHINGTON -- Conservatives often say the poor and jobless got that way because of their own personal failings, but Americans tend to blame the plain old free market.

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll released Thursday finds Americans generally think both the rich and the poor ended up where they are more because of the opportunities they had in life than because of personal successes or failures.

Restoring Louisiana's Coast Will Require Restoring Its Democracy -- Governor Jindal Is Trying to Undermine Both

The Mississippi's River southernmost delta is home to a rich ecosystem, robust, culture and booming economy. Wetlands provide critical storm protection for the Louisiana's coast. A recent poll by America's Wetland Foundation found that 74 percent of Louisiana residents "consider saving the coast to be the most important issue [in the state] of our lifetime." For Delta citizens, flood protection is a matter of survival. Louisiana wetlands are disappearing at a rate of approximately 1 football field every hour and coastal communities are already washing into the Gulf of Mexico. To date, roughly 2,000 square miles of land have disappeared under water and the erosion is accelerating. The disappearing land once buffered communities including New Orleans from catastrophic storm surges.

Sallie Mae Cheated Soldiers On Federal Student Loans, Government Investigators Find

Federal investigators have uncovered evidence that Sallie Mae cheated active-duty soldiers on federal student loans, according to people familiar with the matter.

The findings, if eventually made public as part of a lawsuit or settlement agreement, may threaten Sallie Mae's lucrative contract with the U.S. Department of Education to collect payments on federal student loans. The department's contract requires loan servicers comply with all federal laws when handling federal student loans.

The U.S. Is Not a Democracy, It Is an Oligarchy

A study, to appear in the Fall 2014 issue of the academic journal Perspectives on Politics, finds that the U.S. is no democracy, but instead an oligarchy, meaning profoundly corrupt, so that the answer to the study’s opening question, “Who governs? Who really rules?” in this country, is:

“Despite the seemingly strong empirical support in previous studies for theories of majoritarian democracy, our analyses suggest that majorities of the American public actually have little influence over the policies our government adopts. Americans do enjoy many features central to democratic governance, such as regular elections, freedom of speech and association, and a widespread (if still contested) franchise. But, …” and then they go on to say, it’s not true, and that, “America’s claims to being a democratic society are seriously threatened” by the findings in this, the first-ever comprehensive scientific study of the subject, which shows that there is instead “the nearly total failure of ‘median voter’ and other Majoritarian Electoral Democracy theories [of America]. When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

Harvard Accused Of Retaliating Against Professor Who Defended Sexual Assault Survivors

An accomplished professor claims she was denied tenure by Harvard University and will lose her job there due to her advocacy for victims of sexual violence who were critical of the Ivy League school's handling of their cases.

Dr. Kimberly Theidon, an anthropologist whose work inspired the Oscar-nominated 2009 film "The Milk of Sorrow," filed a complaint against Harvard on March 24 with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination. The complaint alleges that Harvard denied Theidon tenure because of her work with sexual assault victims at the school, and that had Theidon not spoken publicly on behalf of sexual assault victims, provided assistance to students who experienced sexual violence and harassment, and privately complained she was paid less than her male counterparts, her job would never have been jeopardized.

More Proof That American Health Care Prices Are Sky-High

As anyone who's ever paid a health insurance premium or a hospital bill knows, medical care is expensive. What Americans may not know is that residents of other countries don't pay nearly as much for the same things.

The latest data from the International Federation of Health Plans, an industry group representing health insurers from 28 countries including the United States, once again illustrates that American patients pay the highest prices in the world for a variety of prescription drugs and common procedures like childbirth and hospital stays.

Why Are 20 Far-Away States Trying To Block The Cleanup Of The Chesapeake Bay?

Over the years, the Chesapeake Bay has been known for many things: bountiful seafood, such as clams, oysters and the bay’s iconic blue crabs; its boating, fishing and water sports industry; its curly-haired duck-hunting dogs.
Now, however, the bay has become famous for something else: its pollution.
For more than 30 years, states in the region have tried to restore the bay, the largest estuary in the U.S. and a body of water which has effectively served as a dumping ground for agricultural pesticides, pharmaceuticals and other chemicals from urban runoff and industrial sources for decades. In the last few years — and after numerous failed attempts — they’ve inched closer to succeeding, thanks to an Environmental Protection Agency-led plan that puts limits on the amount of agricultural nutrients entering the bay, pollution that has spawned numerous oxygen-free, marine life-killing “dead zones” in the bay and its tributaries. The plan was created at the request of the six Chesapeake Bay states and the District of Columbia, and according to Claudia Friedetzky of the Maryland Sierra Club, is “the best chance that we have ever had to clean up the Chesapeake Bay.”

Oklahoma Will Charge Customers Who Install Their Own Solar Panels

Oklahoma residents who produce their own energy through solar panels or small wind turbines on their property will now be charged an additional fee, the result of a new bill passed by the state legislature and expected to be signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin (R).
On Monday, S.B. 1456 passed the state House 83-5 after no debate. The measure creates a new class of customers: those who install distributed power generation systems like solar panels or small wind turbines on their property and sell the excess energy back to the grid. While those with systems already installed won’t be affected, the new class of customers will now be charged a monthly fee — a shift that happened quickly and caught many in the state off guard.

Canada's Inflation Rate Accelerates As Energy Prices Jump

OTTAWA - A big jump in energy costs and cigarette prices helped push up Canada's inflation rate to 1.5 per cent last month, matching the highest level in the annualized consumer price index in almost two years.

The increase, while significant, was mostly in line with expectations of analysts, who had calculated that the observed strengthening of oil and natural gas prices last month would play a dominant role in the report Thursday.

Ukraine Crisis: Canada Sending Six Fighter Jets To Poland

OTTAWA - Canada announced Thursday it will contribute six CF-18 jet fighters to a NATO air-policing mission in response to the crisis in Ukraine, just as top diplomats from the troubled east European country, the U.S. and Russia announced steps that could ease tensions.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced the military contribution, which included the dispatch of up to 20 staff officers to bolster the Canadian presence at NATO headquarters.

Yellowknife Mine Sits Atop A Lethal Store Of Arsenic

A mine in the Northwest Territories sits atop a lethal store of arsenic that would be enough to kill every man, woman and child in the world, Vice reports.

And a northern regulator wants to know precisely what will be done to keep it it from seeping out.

Proponents of the Giant Mine Remediation Project aim to freeze 237,000 tonnes of arsenic trioxide dust stored in chambers under the mine in Yellowknife, N.W.T. in order to keep it from contaminating nearby water, says Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC).

Rogers CEOs Nadir Mohamed, Guy Laurence Make Nearly $40M In Handover

TORONTO - Rogers Communications (TSX:RCI.B) doled out nearly $40 million last year paying the two executives who held the top position at the telecom company.

Guy Laurence, who only stepped into the CEO role on Dec. 2, made a total of $12.7 million in 2013, according to figures disclosed in Rogers' annual report.

Follow the Money, Part 4 -- Who owns the National Post?

It's no secret that Postmedia Network, publisher of theNational Post, Ottawa Citizen, Montreal Gazette, Calgary Herald, Edmonton Journal,Vancouver Sun and other major Canadian dailies, is hemorrhaging money.
For the year ending August 2013, the company lost $154 million. And the bleeding continues. In the six months since, the company has lost an additional $37 million. Revenue from the company's traditional mainstay, print advertising, has tanked.
What isn't as well known is that during this downward spiral, Silver Point Capital, an American hedge fund, bought a 19 per cent stake in the company.

The snob factor in the Harper universe

After years of relative obscurity in the splendour of the Upper Chamber, Senator Linda Frum’s plunge onto the national stage last week was odd, to say the least.

Frum’s adamant insistence — at a Senate hearing and later in a series of well-publicized Twitter exchanges — that Elections Canada should not encourage people to vote sounded so out of sync with widely-held democratic principles that it appeared mystifying.

Indeed, it only made sense when you realized she was inadvertently revealing how deeply she and other Harperites mistrust the public at large — and how much they fear entrusting the vote to those beyond the Harper base.

Does the RCMP work for us, or the PMO?

The other night on television, Stephen Harper’s former communications manager, Geoff Norquay, said that since the RCMP has assured Nigel Wright he will not be charged, nobody cares about the whole stinking mess any longer.

Well, I do. As the saying goes, justice must not only be done, it must be seen to be done.

In order for that to happen in the case of Nigel Wright, we deserve a full explanation of how this decision was made — and who ultimately made it.

Economist Thomas Piketty Explains Why Income Inequality Is Just Getting Started

Life's two certainties may be death and taxes, but French economist Thomas Piketty seems to have found a third: the rich will keep getting richer.

The rapidly rising wealth and income gap seen in the United States and around the world in recent decades is no fluke, but the natural state of affairs, according to Piketty's best-selling new book, "Capital in the 21st Century." Weighing in at nearly 700 pages, the book crunches 300 years' worth of income and wealth data to come to its unnerving conclusion.

Mayor 'Kind Of Agreed' With White Supremacist Accused Of Killing 3 At Jewish Centers

Marionville, Missouri Mayor Dan Clevenger said he "kind of agreed" with some of the beliefs of Frazier Glenn Cross, the 73-year-old accused of killing three people outside of a Jewish community center and retirement complex near Kansas City on Sunday.

In an interview with KSPR, Clevenger said Cross -- who also goes by the name Frazier Glenn Miller -- was "[v]ery fair and honest and never had a bit of problems out of him."

Democratic Congressman Wants Federal Investigation Into ALEC-Backed Laws

WASHINGTON -- The ranking member of the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation wants the Department of Interior's inspector general to determine whether laws pushed by conservative groups are undermining the agency's work.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) sent a letter to DOI acting Inspector General Mary Kendall Wednesday asking about this issue in the wake of a standoff in Nevada between militiamen and officials from the DOI's Bureau of Land Management. Rancher Cliven Bundy has refused for years to pay grazing fees for his use of federal lands, saying he does not recognize federal authority over public lands in the state. The issue came to a head last week when BLM officials seized hundreds of Bundy's cattle, and armed right-wing and anti-government groups flocked to the area for a showdown. Authorities then abandoned the cattle seizure, citing "serious concern about the safety of employees and members of the public."

For-Profit Clinic Lawsuit May Transform Health Care

A court case scheduled to start in September in British Columbia could have severe consequences for public health care in Canada, warn those speaking on behalf of two interveners in the case.

"It's hard to overstate the importance of this court case," said Vanessa Brcic, a family doctor in Vancouver who is on the board of Canadian Doctors for Medicare, speaking at a late March public forum at the University of Victoria.

Koch Brothers Net Worth Soars Past $100 Billion

Charles and David Koch hit a milestone on Wednesday, as a $1.3 billion boost to their collective fortune sent their net worth above $100 billion, according to Bloomberg News.

The brothers are majority stakeholders in Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held company in the U.S., after Cargill Inc. They are now the fifth- and sixth-wealthiest people in the world.

While half the country may not be familiar with the Koch brothers, according to a recent poll, the pair has poured millions into conservative campaigns and causes. The brothers' most recent advertising campaign will target key Senate races in Colorado and Iowa, chastising Democratic candidates Mark Udall and Bruce Braley for supporting the Affordable Care Act.

B.C. Environmental Assessment Decision Reversed

FORT NELSON, B.C. - British Columbia Environment Minister Mary Polak has done a complete turn around on a decision that would have exempted most of the natural gas produced in the province from mandatory environmental assessment.

After quietly passing an order in council Monday without public debate that would have removed about 99 per cent of the natural gas produced in the province from automatic environmental reviews, the government reversed the decision late Wednesday.