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.]

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Stephen Harper Defends Record After Harsh Criticism From Brian Mulroney

OTTAWA - What had been a renewed political friendship between Stephen Harper and Brian Mulroney could be back on the rocks.

The prime minister found himself offering up a defence Friday in the face of an onslaught of criticism from Mulroney over foreign affairs policy, Canada's relationship with the U.S. and Harper's public fight with the Supreme Court.

The Central Park Five's Long Legal Nightmare Ends As Judge Approves $41 Million Settlement

hereNEW YORK -- A federal judge officially approved New York City's $41 million settlement with the Central Park Five on Friday, bringing to an end a decades-long legal battle for the five men wrongfully convicted in a high-profile sexual assault case in 1990.
"It's a long time coming and we're grateful that this chapter in our lives can finally be put to rest, and we can concentrate on other things," Raymond Santana told The Huffington Post on Friday. Santana, along with four other men, all of them black or Latino, spent years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in the 1989 beating and rape of a Central Park jogger.
"But it still doesn't take away what we went through and all the obstacles we had to overcome," he added.
centrla park
Santana speaks at a press conference at City Hall in Manhattan on June 27, 2014. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
According to reports in the New York Daily News, Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis approved the settlement, which ensures that Santana, Antron McCray, Yusef Salaam and Kevin Richardson will each receive more than $7 million as compensation for the nearly six years they each spent in prison. Korey Wise, who spent nearly 13 years in prison, will receive more than $12 million.

Ferguson Police Chief Lied About Why He Released Alleged Michael Brown Robbery Tape: Report

Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson lied when he said he had received "many" specific requests for the videotape that allegedly shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store, according to a new report.

"All I did -- what I did was -- was release the videotape to you, because I had to," Jackson told reporters on Aug. 15 when asked why he released the robbery footage. "I’d been sitting on it, but I -- too many people put in a [Freedom of Information Act] request for that thing, and I had to release that tape to you."

Andrew Cuomo: Debates Can Be 'A Disservice To Democracy'

With just four days until New York's gubernatorial primary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and his running mate Kathy Hochul have yet to publicly acknowledge their most prominent Democratic challengers, Zephyr Teachout and her running mate Tim Wu -- beyond trying to have Teachout's name removed from the ballot, that is.

“I would like to challenge Kathy Hochul and Andrew Cuomo: say our names,” Wu said Thursday. “They seem to be unable to realize that we even exist.”

Russo-Ukrainian War Now a Reality

Now that Russia has openly attacked Ukraine, what's next?

The wait is finally over. After invading Crimea in late February, Russia has launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to NATO, over a 1,000 Russian soldiers have been deployed in Ukraine. The Russian Committee of Soldiers' Mothers puts the number at 15,000. A well-informed Ukrainian journalist estimates it at no fewer than 10,000 and possibly as high as 20,000. Naturally, Russian officials continue to deny that there are any Russian soldiers in Ukraine, but their credibility is nil and no one takes them seriously anymore.

The Huge U.S. Counterterrorism Operation You've Probably Never Even Heard About

As many headlines around the country focus on President Obama's moves in Iraq to contain the violence wreaked by Islamist militants, the news of U.S. airstrikes in Somalia this week targeting the leader of the extremist group al-Shabab may have seemed out of the blue.

Yet the U.S. has quietly been building up a large counterterrorism operation in Africa in recent years. The tiny African nation Djibouti, which neighbors Somalia, is home to the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone, according to The Washington Post. The 500-acre base, called Camp Lemonnier, has 4,000 U.S. civilians and military personnel mostly engaged in counterterrorism in East Africa and Yemen, including a secretive Special Operations task force which coordinates drone missions. The U.S. is investing almost $1 billion to expand the base, according to a congressional report for fiscal year 2014.

Nonprofit Floats Unusual Alternative To Private Prison

A group of activists in Washington, D.C., have proposed a novel solution to a problem that has affected the United States for decades: the practice of locking people up in private prisons that critics say are more concerned with making money for their shareholders than with helping lawbreakers turn their lives around.

Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants, or CURE, a prison reform group comprised mainly of former inmates, wants to convert a private jail in D.C. into what they say would be the first nonprofit lockup in the country, if not the world. At this point, the idea is just that -- an idea. The group, which claims some 20,000 members throughout the country, convened its first meeting about the proposal on Friday at D.C.'s Harrington Hotel, but has yet to figure out any of the logistics of what they admit would be a complicated, even quixotic effort.

NATO Approves New Force Aimed At Deterring Russia

NEWPORT, Wales (AP) — Seeking to counter Russian aggression, NATO leaders approved plans Friday to create a rapid response force with a headquarters in Eastern Europe that could quickly mobilize if an alliance country in the region were to come under attack.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a command headquarters would be set up in Eastern Europe with supplies and equipment stockpiled there, enabling the "spearhead" force to mobilize and deploy quickly.

Why Congress Must Impose Limits on the Use of Force in Iraq

When Congress returns from recess the week of September 8, the US military will have been bombing Islamic State fighters in Iraq for a month. Officials say the bombing could continue for months more, and they’ve also threatened to bomb IS fighters in Syria.

The Constitution and the 1973 War Powers Resolution require congressional authorization to use military force unless there is an attack or imminent threat of attack on the United States. Congress has not authorized force in Iraq or Syria, and whatever one thinks of President Obama’s initial justifications, there is no such thing as an “emergency” of infinite duration.

Hustle and Flow: Here's Who Really Controls California's Water

"Water flows uphill towards money," a source told Marc Reisner in Cadillac Desert, the seminal book on California water politics. Today the complex web of political interests that Reisner detailed some 30 years ago has become even more arcane and intertwined. As California confronts its worst drought in years, these power brokers will largely determine who gets water, and who gets left high and dry:

DIANNE FEINSTEIN: The chair of the powerful energy and water panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee has a history of siding with the state's agricultural interests, which use 80 percent of the state's water. In a March email to two Cabinet secretaries, Feinstein joined Republicans in urging federal water officials to capture "the maximum amount of water" from the Sacramento San Joaquin River Delta for farmers. Two months later, she pushed a drought bill through the Senate by a unanimous vote, over the objections of environmentalists who said it would open the door to permanently increasing water allocations to farmers at the expense of endangered fish. Environmental groups "have never been helpful to me in producing good water policy," she later told the San Francisco Chronicle. She is now hammering out a compromise bill with House Republicans who want to do even more to gut endangered species laws.

NATO Rapid Response Force Approved To Counter Russian Threat

NEWPORT, Wales - Seeking to counter Russian aggression, NATO leaders approved plans Friday to create a rapid response force with a headquarters in Eastern Europe that could quickly mobilize if an alliance country in the region were to come under attack.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said a command headquarters would be set up in Eastern Europe with supplies and equipment stockpiled there, enabling the "spearhead" force to mobilize and deploy quickly.

Missouri Republicans Are About to Pass One of the Harshest Abortion Laws in the Country

Missouri's Republican-controlled Legislature is poised to pass one of the harshest abortion laws in the county next week when lawmakers return to the state capitol for a last-minute special session.

GOP lawmakers called the session to try to override several of Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon's vetoes. At the top of the list: A bill that would force women seeking an abortion—including victims of rape and incest—to wait 72 hours between their first visit to a clinic and the procedure itself. Nixon vetoed the bill in June.

Tories’ use of provocateurs to entrap Liberals blasted as unethical

OTTAWA - Federal Conservatives are putting a new twist on an old tactic: spying on political opponents.

They're no longer content to send observers to rival parties' public events, passively monitoring proceedings in hopes of spotting a gaffe that can be exploited. They're now employing agents provocateur who actively try to instigate a miscue, secretly record it and then leak it to the media.

Liberals, who've been on the receiving end of the ploy twice in the past three months, call the tactic entrapment, unethical and "Nixonian." And they worry it could lead to the end of candour in federal politics, with wary politicians reduced to mouthing platitudes and reciting carefully scripted talking points.

Harper and NATO: Big talk, small change

An “aspirational target”. That’s how the PMO is describing the United States’ request that NATO allies boost military spending to two per cent of their GDP. Only four nations meet that threshold right now: the United States (4.4 per cent), Great Britain (2.4 per cent), Greece (2.3 per cent) and Slovenia (2 per cent).

Canada spends 1 per cent, which puts us at the back of the pack: Nineteen member nations spend more than we do, two spend the same, and six spend less.

Open letter: To the parents of B.C. on the ongoing teachers dispute

This letter was sent to Laila Yuile by a parent in Surrey, B.C., who has been very involved in the school system for a long time, with hopes that it will assist other parents in understanding part of what's going on right now in the teachers dispute.
As a parent of children who have been in the school system since the late 1990s I have a unique perspective on the current negotiations. I was in the system when class size and composition were in the teachers' contract and quite frankly when the system worked. Here is a little history that many parents don't know.

Poll-driven news coverage does a disservice to Canadian politics

A bit more than a week before the House of Commons meets again some normally canny and shrewd observers are starting to write off Stephen Harper.
But those who see the current Conservative regime as the worst disaster to hit Ottawa since R. B. Bennett should not pop their champagne corks just yet.
The current federal governing party still has plenty of assets. It would be foolhardy to dismiss its prospects six months to a year before an election.

Threats to security start at home

"Developments in other parts of the world, particularly in Iraq and Syria, threaten our security at home" (Barack Obama and David Cameron, in the Times of London). I'll say. In fact I think it's the only thing you can say with assurance about either crisis they're discussing: Ukraine and ISIS. But the threats I see at home may be different from those they have in mind.
Start with Ukraine. Here's a chilling thought. It comes from U.S. scholar Stephen Cohen, an A-list expert on Russia for many decades. During the Soviet era, he worked with dissidents and supported reform. He's deeply perturbed at misinformation about the current crisis but even he has found it hard to get a serious hearing. The "official" version dominates.

Bill C-10 will hurt First Nations communities

Apart from the occasional whiz of a vehicle hurtling down Chiefswood Road, the main thoroughfare that leads into the heart of the Six Nations of the Grand River, the most populous First Nation in Canada, is still.
Wind gently rustles treetops, birds happily chirp and a blank-eyed rabbit silently inspects my car before darting into a green field; the scene is downright bucolic.
A little further into the reserve, however, a gravel parking lot outside a characterless strip mall buzzes with activity.

U.S. Airman Denied Reenlistment For Omitting 'So Help Me God,' Humanist Group Claims

A member of the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs, Nevada, was allegedly barred from reenlisting in the Air Force after omitting the phrase "so help me God" from his contract, according to an American Humanist Association letter sent Tuesday to U.S. Air Force officials.

The airman was "told by his superiors that he must swear to God or leave the Air Force," according to the American Humanist Association, which was first alerted of the August 25 incident by secular watchdog group Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers.

Mulroney On Harper's Supreme Court Spat: 'You Don't Do That'

OTTAWA - Brian Mulroney is pulling no punches on the 30th anniversary of his historic majority election win, chastising Stephen Harper on everything from foreign affairs to the prime minister's spat with Canada's top judge.

In an interview with CTV's "Power Play" to mark this week's anniversary, the former prime minister sternly rebuked Harper for his public spat this year with Beverley McLachlin, chief justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.

'$15 Could Change Everything': Hundreds Arrested As Fast-Food Workers Strike Nationwide

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- About two dozen of this city's fast-food workers marched Thursday afternoon to a street corner that's home to a McDonald's, a Wendy's and a KFC. Calling for a living wage of $15, they seated themselves in the middle of a freeway entrance, backing up traffic as far as the eye could see.

Charleston police were eventually forced to pull them out of the street one by one, citing them for disorderly conduct in what were deemed "non-custodial" arrests. All told, 18 people -- most of them earning right around minimum wage -- were arrested next to the McDonald's parking lot.

Gap Between Richest And The Rest Widened After The Recession: Fed

Sept 4 (Reuters) - The gap between the richest Americans and the rest of the nation widened after the Great Recession, a survey by the Federal Reserve showed on Thursday, suggesting deepening U.S. income inequality.

Though incomes of the highest-earners rose, none of the groups analyzed by the Fed had regained their 2007 income levels by 2013, underscoring deep scars from the financial crisis and its aftermath.

The Greatest Threat to Our Liberty Is Local Governments Run Amok

The libertarian’s jeremiads about creeping tyranny often seem the ravings of a paranoid. Then along comes Ferguson to confirm the dark warnings: Warrior cops stalk suburban streets, dressed in Desert Storm green and wielding automatic weapons aimed to fire. They detain journalists, hurl smoke bombs into unarmed crowds, and bury incriminating details.

And yet, even though libertarians were plenty prescient in warning about the militarization of the police, they still managed to get it wrong. As Rand Paul argued in an impassioned op-ed on the conflagration in Missouri: “Not surprisingly, big government has been at the heart of the problem.” But what Ferguson shows is that the heart of the problem is, in fact, small government—the cops, prosecutors, and their bosses with an inflated sense of their powers. The great and growing threat to liberty in this country comes from states and localities run amok.

Okay, Canada: It’s time for the hard truth about Tim Hortons

Have a seat, Canada. Are you comfortable? Good, that’s good.

I noticed you’ve been in a downward spiral since Burger King announced its plan to buy Tim Hortons for $12 billion—or roughly $1 for every Tims on Yonge Street in Toronto.

You’re worried about what the takeover will mean for your morning coffee—and for the corporation that is traditionally depicted in our media as adored, iconic and able to cure hepatitis with its doughnut glaze. (I’m paraphrasing.)

Europe's Austerity-Fueled Depression Keeps Getting Worse

Europe's central bank just slashed interest rates and launched emergency stimulus measures -- but six years too late, and not enough to counter the austerity that has Europe in a worse mess than the Great Depression.
The European Central Bank surprised markets on Thursday by cutting its target short-term interest rate to basically zero. ECB also plans to buy a bunch of bonds to push longer-term rates lower, too -- an echo of the U.S. Federal Reserve's many rounds of "quantitative easing," used in recent years to goose the economy (or at least the stock market).

How Businesses Get Enriched by Taxes

Millions of tax-paying Americans pick up the check left by multinational corporations that escape their obligations while enjoying all the benefits of doing business in America—including tax credits of up to 33 cents for every dollar of profit—David Cay Johnston writes at Newsweek.
Moving their headquarters “on paper,” as Burger King did this summer, is “just one of several ways multinationals don’t pay their fair share, and they get away with it because the federal government encourages such behavior,” Johnston continues.
How can a tax burden become a boon? Simple. Congress lets multinationals earn profits today but pay their taxes by-and-by. In effect, Uncle Sam is loaning these companies all that money they do not immediately turn over as taxes. And all of these loans come with the same attractive interest rate: zero.
Imagine how your bank statement would look if, instead of having taxes taken out of your weekly paycheck, Congress let you keep that dough in return for your promise to pay your taxes years or decades from now—and sometimes, never.
That’s the extraordinary deal Congress gives many big American companies now sitting on hundreds of billions of dollars of what are, essentially, interest-free loans. Apple and GE owe at least $36 billion in taxes on profits being held tax-free offshore, Microsoft nearly $27 billion and Pfizer $24 billion, according to Citizens for Tax Justice, a nonprofit organization respected for the integrity of its numbers even by groups that dislike its progressive perspective.
Read more here.

Original Article
Author: --

BP Lashes Out at Journalists and "Opportunistic" Environmentalists

News of this morning's federal court decision against BP broke as I was aboard a 40-foot oyster boat in the Louisiana delta, just off the coast of Empire, a suburb of New Orleans.

The reaction: stunned silence. Then a bit of optimism.

"This is huge," said John Tesvich, chair of the Louisiana Oyster Task Force, his industry's main lobby group in the state. "They are going to have to pay a lot more." Standing on his boat, the "Croatian Pride," en route to survey oyster farms, he added: "We want to see justice. We hope that this money goes to helping cure some of the environmental issues in this state."

‘Poor Doors' In Toronto? Controversial Trend Appears At New Condo Developments

The news earlier this summer that a New York City condo building is planning to install a “poor door” — a separate entrance for lower-income residents — sparked a controversy rife with accusations of elitism.

Closer inspection revealed that such “poor doors” are nothing new in New York, but in these days of concern about the income gap, the developer’s move to segregate lower-income residents seemed like an apt symbol for an unequal age.

Case against Del Mastro 'overwhelming,' Crown argues

PETERBOROUGH, Ont. — All the evidence presented in MP Dean Del Mastro’s election fraud trial backs up the story told by key witness Frank Hall, while Del Mastro’s story doesn’t match the facts, a prosecutor told a judge in Peterborough on Thursday.

“The evidence of guilt in this case is overwhelming,” Tom Lemon told Judge Lisa Cameron as the Crown presented its final arguments.

Obama Makes Bushism the New Normal

In a lot of ways, we're worse off today than we were under George W. Bush.

Back then, Bush's extremist assault on civil liberties, human rights and other core American values in the name of fighting terror felt like an aberration.

Stephen Harper is wrong: Crime and sociology are the same thing

Stephen Harper recently responded to renewed calls for a public inquiry into the national crisis of missing and murdered Aboriginal women with the comment that the 1,200 cases are “crimes” and not “sociological phenomena.”

The recent pressure on the federal government to acknowledge that these incidents constitute a national crisis emerged following the tragic murder of 15-year-old Tina Fontaine. Since Mr. Harper made this claim, several commentators have accurately pointed out that the over-representation of Aboriginal women as victims of violence serves as concrete and indisputable evidence that the problem is systemic. In joining those who believe our government should generate policy and claims with reference to reality, I would also like to draw attention to another indisputable and obvious point that Mr. Harper overlooked: crime is a sociological phenomenon.

BP's Recklessness Caused Gulf Oil Spill, U.S. Judge Rules

A U.S. judge has ruled that BP's recklessness caused 2010's massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a move that could cost the company billions. Earlier this week Halliburton, the company in charge of sealing the completed Deepwater Horizon well that spewed millions of gallons of oil into the gulf, agreed to pay $1.1 billion to settle claims arising from its negligence.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will now hold a penalty phase to decide how much BP will pay. The company may face as much as $18 billion in civil penalties under the Clean Water Act, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Mitch McConnell’s 47% Moment

Many political bookies have tipped the Republican Party to win the Senate in November. This scenario raises a vexing question: Just what will Mitch McConnell do if, instead of opposing and undermining, he must actually govern? In late August, The Nation and the YouTube channel The Undercurrent released an audiotape of McConnell addressing a private strategy session of millionaire and billionaire Republican donors convened in June by the notorious Koch brothers. His comments there, which some have compared to Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” gaffe, are revealing.

How the Government Created ‘Stop-and-Frisk for Latinos’

Yestel Velazquez went to pick up his truck from an auto shop on a Tuesday evening three months ago. He had left it in Kenner, Louisiana, with a mechanic named Wilmer Palma, a fellow Honduran immigrant he’d met doing construction work after Hurricane Katrina. Velazquez was inside his truck, ready to drive away, when several unmarked cars pulled up and blocked the exits. He recalls men in plainclothes and bulletproof vests that said Police, along with an officer in a Kenner Police Department uniform, getting out of the cars.

How Taking Down A "Big Tiger" Is Establishing the Rule of Law in China

SHANGHAI -- The downfall of Zhou Yongkang, a "big tiger" top official who in the past would have been considered immune to corruption investigations, is of great practical significance. It sets a new milestone in China's deepening anti-graft campaign.

What we should remember, however, is that as a former member of the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party, Zhou had served as China's political-legal helmsman for as long as a decade. How much money he and his connections had rendered is not a big concern. Instead, of most consequence is the harm resulting from his malfeasance in the political and legal fields during all those years. Over more than 10 years, Zhou polluted almost every part of the country's political-legal realm. The effect of his actions has manifested itself in mechanisms and latent rules running against the requirements of the rule of law.

It's Time To Name The 2014 Midterms The Dark Money Election

WASHINGTON -- If 2012 was the super PAC election, the 2014 midterms look to be the dark money election. Spending on ads that named federal candidates by nonprofit organizations, which are not required to disclose their donors, has soared in the months leading up to November.

Dark money groups have spent at least $142 million on advertising campaigns naming specific senators, representatives and congressional candidates over the past 20 months, according to a Huffington Post analysis of news reports, press releases and political advertising reports collected by the Sunlight Foundation. This total now surpasses the $122 million spent by independent groups that do disclose their donors and only stands to grow.

How municipalities in St. Louis County, Mo., profit from poverty

On March 20 in the St. Louis County town of Florissant, someone made an illegal U-turn in front of Nicole Bolden. The 32-year-old black single mother hit her brakes but couldn’t avoid a collision. Bolden wasn’t at fault for the accident and wanted to continue on her way. The other motorist insisted on calling the police, as per the law. When the officer showed up, Bolden filled with dread.

“He was really nice and polite at first,” Bolden says. “But once he ran my name, he got real mean with me. He told me I was going to jail. I had my 3-year-old and my one-and-a-half-year-old with me. I asked him about my kids. He said I had better find someone to come and get them, because he was taking me in.” The Florissant officer arrested and cuffed Bolden in front of her children. Her kids remained with another officer until Bolden’s mother and sister could come pick them up.

This Map Shows Why People Are Freaking Out About Ebola's Arrival in Senegal

The ongoing outbreaks of Ebola in West Africa continue to devastate Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and recently caused a national emergency in Nigeria—as of August 28, the Centers for Disease Control was putting the suspected and confirmed case count at 3,069, including 1,552 deaths. But in the last few days, with the virus entering Senegal and health workers discovering a fresh outbreak in Nigeria, global health groups such as the World Health Organization are getting increasingly strident with their concerns. On Sunday, WHO officials called Ebola's arrival in Senegal "a top priority emergency." On Tuesday, Joanne Liu, international president of the global health organization Doctors Without Borders, warned the United Nations that the world was "losing the battle to contain" the disease. "Leaders are failing to come to grips with this transnational threat," she said.

Inside the Mammoth Backlash to Common Core

ONE NIGHT LAST SEPTEMBER, a 46-year-old Veterans Administration research manager named Robert Small showed up at a public meeting with state education officials in Ellicott City, a well-to-do Maryland suburb, with a pen, a notebook, and an ax to grind. Small had been doing some homework on the main topic of the event, a set of math and language arts standards called Common Core that had recently been introduced in schools across the country, including his kids'. Fresh from work in a crisp, checkered shirt, he stood up in an overflow crowd and channeled his inner Henry V. "I want to know how many parents here are aware that the goal of the Common Core standards isn't to prepare our children for world-class universities—it's to prepare them for community college!" An off-duty police officer approached, and Small began to shout. "You're sitting here like cattle!" Out came the handcuffs. "Hey, is this America?" Small bellowed, as he jostled with the officer. "Parents, you need to question these people! Do the research!"

Employment Insurance: Toronto's Jobless Have Less Than 1-In-5 Shot To Get Benefits

OTTAWA -- It was a barely noticed peculiarity in the government's latest employment insurance numbers — just 17 per cent of unemployed workers in Toronto are collecting EI, among the lowest rates in the city's history as it confronts a higher jobless rate than the provincial and national average.

There are more than 307,000 jobless Torontonians, according to the latest Statistics Canada figures. Fewer than 55,000 of them are collecting EI in a city with an 8.9 per cent jobless rate.

Kurds seek heavy weapons against ISIL

IRBIL, Iraq - Peshmerga Brig-Gen. Magdeed Haki motioned towards a dark blur on the horizon about a kilometre from his searing hot, windblown perch atop a sandbagged, orange-dirt bunker in northern Iraq.

Behind him, kilometres to the south, the key city of Irbil lies relatively unscathed, despite recent events. Just 40 kilometres northward, the city of Mosul is still held by the marauding Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, the al-Qaida splinter group that has waged a relentless offensive across this region for months.

Will the Detroit water department be privatized?

There have been ongoing concerns that the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department could be privatized.
In June, the Detroit Free Pressreported, "[In March, Detroit emergency manager Kevyn] Orr began exploring a public-private partnership to run the [Detroit Water and Sewerage] department. The city issued a request for information seeking proposals from private companies." At that time, USA Today reported that Orr confirmed that he had taken bids from two large American private water companies to manage the water department. "A spokeswoman for one of the companies, New Jersey-based American Water, confirmed it's in discussions with Orr but declined further comment. Another large water company, Veolia Water North America in Chicago, didn't return phone calls."

Join the fight for net neutrality with the Internet Slowdown!

Next Wednesday, Sept. 10, if your favourite website seems to load slowly, take a closer look: You might be experiencing the Battle for the Net's "Internet Slowdown," a global day of grassroots action. Protesters won't actually slow the Internet down, but will place on their websites animated "Loading" graphics (which organizers call "the proverbial 'spinning wheel of death'") to symbolize what the Internet might soon look like. As that wheel spins, the rules about how the Internet works are being redrawn. Large Internet service providers, or ISPs, like Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T and Verizon are trying to change the rules that govern your online life.

My Dinner With the 1 Percent: The Fight for Higher Wages Means Confronting the Greed of the Rich

As fast food workers are walking out Thursday yet again for higher wages and the right to union representation, they can count some lawmakers and President Obama as being on their side, verbally championing a higher federal minimum wage. And they have the support of a majority of Americans.

But when it comes to corporate decision makers such as those represented by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, they face hostility and ridicule. In fact, as a recent personal experience demonstrated to me, the wealthiest Americans who control the purse strings of corporate America may actually believe the lie that raising wages is unnecessary and that today’s workers are better off than in the past.

NATO Should Stop Putin From Restoring Czarist Empire, Zbigniew Brzezinski Says

Zbigniew Brzezinski, who served as national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, remains one of America’s top strategic thinkers going back to the days of the Cold War. He spoke with WorldPost editor Nathan Gardels on Monday evening about the NATO Summit in Wales.

First Nations social contracts: How to contain an aboriginal rebellion

The new religion of economic development — mines, pipelines, power projects and private property — is being promoted by Bob Rae, Jim Prentice, and even former prime minister Brian Mulroney as the only realistic alternative for First Nations.

Last month Rae, acting as a negotiator for nine Ontario First Nations, joined Premier Kathleen Wynne to celebrate the signing of a framework agreement that would open up the province's far north to a mineral development bonanza.

Only Stephen Harper Stands in the Way of an Effective Government

I've watched a good many Premiers Conferences during my 26 years in Parliament. This year's get-together in Charlottetown has to rank among the best for both substance and tone.

On healthcare, services and facilities for the elderly, and retirement incomes for middle-class Canadians, the Premiers were right on-target with the insecurities that preoccupy a big portion of Canada's population all across the country. Provincial leaders were also in synch with decent Canadian values in their support for a Public Inquiry (or some reasonable facsimile) to get definitive answers and action with respect to 1,100 missing or murdered Aboriginal women.

Mount Polley mine tailings spill nearly 70 per cent bigger than first estimated

Imperial Metals’ estimate of the size of the spill from its Mount Polley mine tailings dam collapse is nearly 70 per cent greater than the initial estimate.

The B.C. government has estimated that 10 million cubic metres of water and 4.5 million cubic meters of finely ground rock containing potentially-toxic metals was released by the collapse of the dam on Aug. 4.

Six Reasons BC Place Is Growing into a Giant Lemon

It was the perfect storm.

Mere hours after talks collapsed between negotiators for the B.C. government and the province's public school teachers, the Vancouver Whitecaps were hosting the Portland Timbers in a Major League Soccer match at B.C. Place Stadium. Premier Christy Clark was spotted among the announced crowd of 21,000 for the home team's embarrassing 3-0 loss. The Whitecaps claim precisely 21,000 people attend most of their games. Not 20,999 or 21,001, but 21,000.