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.]

Friday, November 28, 2014

The owner of the Trans Mountain pipeline is distancing itself from responsibility for a potential disaster and is breaking the law by restructuring without a green light from the National Energy Board, claims economist Robyn Allan.

The restructuring Allan points to is a big deal for financial folks, and mind-numbingly complicated for just about everyone else. This week, the Houston-based Kinder Morgan Inc. is set to complete a $73-billion deal that gives it full ownership of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, a separate entity in charge of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion through Burnaby.

Splitting off investigative role from Elections Canada cost $2.9 million

A Conservative government decision to move the office that investigates election fraud from under the roof of Elections Canada is costing almost $3 million in up-front costs.

A written response to a question from Liberal MP Scott Simms details $2,939.557.90 budgeted to move the office of elections commissioner Yves Cote into the Office of the Public Prosecutor, including $265,000 in management fees for the relocation.

The government shifted Cote’s office from its home within Elections Canada earlier this year as part of a hotly contested bill dubbed the Fair Elections Act, despite testimony the move would make the office less effective and less efficient.

Original Article
Author: Will LeRoy

What Chuck Hagel’s Resignation Signals About Obama’s Foreign Policy

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel formally submitted his resigned on Monday, after being pressured by the White House to give up the job less than two years into the cabinet post.

In a speech announcing his resignation, President Barack Obama praised Hagel as “an exemplary defense secretary” and “a great friend,” but his departure likely signals a shift in defense policy.

Even though he maintained that the decision was a mutual one, an anonymous Obama administration official told the New York Times that the resignation came because of an agreement that “the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus.”

Tory sting operation ends up catching Tories

OTTAWA - An attempt by the Conservatives to catch a prominent Liberal candidate with his foot in his mouth has instead wound up biting several Tory MPs, including senior cabinet minister Jason Kenney.

The political sting operation — just the latest in a series of covert Tory efforts aimed at capturing verbal gaffes by Liberals — was launched at a Nov. 13 public meeting in Canmore, Alta., by a young Conservative who's been involved in at least one other similar plot.

Israeli cabinet approves legislation defining nation-state of Jewish people

A controversial bill that officially defines Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people has been approved by cabinet despite warnings that the move risks undermining the country’s democratic character.

Opponents, including some cabinet ministers, said the new legislation defined reserved “national rights” for Jews only and not for its minorities, and rights groups condemned it as racist.

Violence against Aboriginal women has to stop

Three weeks ago, 16-year-old Rinelle Harper from the Garden Hill Nation in northern Manitoba was brutally attacked and thrown into the icy waters of Winnipeg’s Assiniboine River. Scarcely clothed, bloodied and freezing, she somehow managed to pull herself out only to be attacked again and left for dead, police said. She was found the next morning — breathing, but just barely — by two construction workers who called 911. After a week in a hospital children’s ward, she was discharged.

This violence against Aboriginal women has to stop.

Tory income-splitting tax policy: It's about creating and preserving gender inequality

A fundamental purpose of the Harper Government's ideologically driven income-splitting tax scheme is to undermine women's equality, Queen's University tax law professor Kathleen Lahey told the Parkland Institute's annual fall conference yesterday.
That's a statement that may cause some readers to react with skepticism -- but if you're one of them, let me suggest it's because you haven’t really been paying attention.
Dr. Lahey told a plenary session of the conference how, back in 1982 when the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms was adopted, women were almost full citizens of Canada. Almost.

WTF? Canada votes against UN resolution condemning glorification of Nazism!

Can someone please explain why Canada was one of three countries to vote Friday againsta United Nations resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism?
The resolution, which censures attempts to glorify Nazi ideology and denial of German crimes during the Second World War, was passed by the General Assembly committee that deals with human rights abuses by a vote of 115 to three, with 55 nations abstaining.

Dene block road in Saskatchewan to stop oil companies

A group of northern trappers is blocking a road near LaLoche, Saskatchewan to prevent oil companies' access to exploration camps north of that point. LaLoche is located about 600 kilometres north of Saskatoon and about 100 kilometres east of Fort McMurray.
A media release notes, "The Dene people of Ducharme, who have made a living from the land for centuries, have found access to their trap lines blocked by security gates. ...Trappers are making a stand because for the past 6 and half years, there has been a mad rush on mineral and oil exploration. ...The trappers are concerned that they are being ignored and driven off of their lands by oil and mineral companies, like Cenovus from Calgary, Alberta."

Safety for some, violence for the poor: Five reasons to support feminist action

Issues of violence against women have been getting a lot more attention in the news than usual in the past few weeks. Amidst these conversations, you sometimes hear reference to survivors as 'educated' or a 'public figure'. The media emphasis on the class standing of survivors implies that certain lives and stories of violence are more 'believable' (just barely) -- while others can be more easily dismissed. 

Selective use of ‘terror’ term fuels Harper’s resurgence

According to the pollster’s pollster, Nik Nanos, Canada has undergone a sea-change in the past month.

In his latest Party Power Index, war, terrorism and security have now replaced health-care as the second most important issue amongst Canadians.

For a lot of reasons, this boggles the mind.

There is more. According to several surveys, including the most recent Forum Research poll, the long-held Trudeau lead over the Conservatives for 19 consecutive months has come to an end. It is now a statistical dead heat between support for Trudeau and Harper; 36 to 33 per cent respectively, or in pollster-speak, within the margin of error, a tie.

Wall Street Leading Washington Yet Again: What Was Obama Thinking?

If you want to understand what makes Elizabeth Warren so special in American politics, consider her nervy leadership of the campaign to block President Obama's foolish nomination of one Antonio Weiss to be the top Treasury official in charge of the domestic financial system, including enforcement of the Dodd-Frank Act.

Terrorism bill raises civil liberties questions

The government's new anti-terrorism bill is only seven pages long, but opposition MPs found much to be concerned about Monday during the first committee meeting set aside to study Bill C-44.

Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney wouldn't give a yes or no answer when asked whether government lawyers, who review every government bill tabled in Parliament, were confident the proposal to give Canadian spies more powers complies with the Canadian Constitution.

Canada's 'Auditgate': How Canada Revenue is attacking Harper's enemies and coddling his friends

There are lots of conservative groups in Canada that have been granted charitable status, the Fraser Institute being an obvious example. That means they're required to be non-partisan and can use only 10 per cent of their resources for political activities. Besides broad ideology, what these groups have in common is that none of them, it appears, is being audited by the Canadian Revenue Agency. Yet many have unquestionably participated in "political activities" as spelled out by the CRA. You can read all about them, and their warm relationships with the Harper government, in Prof. Donald Gutstein's new book, Harperism: How Stephen Harper and His Think Tank Colleagues Have Transformed Canada.

The return of Casey the rebel

Bill Casey became famous as the Conservative who faced down Stephen Harper. Now he’s a Liberal, and he wants to do it again.

After his 2007 standoff with Harper over offshore resources, Casey could have been elected dictator of Nova Scotia. He seemed to be the only federal Conservative taking the province’s side in the political scrap over the Atlantic Accord.

Casey wanted his party, the Conservatives, to respect the accord. The Harper government was trying to get around it via the federal budget. The budget would have added offshore oil and gas revenues here and in Newfoundland and Labrador to the federal equalization formula. Just as the offshore was turning profitable, Ottawa wanted to claw it all back.

Police involved shooting in East Vancouver leads to fatality

A 51-year-old man shot by police in East Vancouver earlier this evening has now died, police say.

Shortly before 5:00 p.m., police say they received 9-1-1 calls regarding a distraught man who was standing at the intersection of East 41st Avenue and Knight Street, shouting and waving a 2x4 around.

When police arrived, they were confronted by the man who refused to comply with the officers directions. Officers deployed less-lethal bean bag rounds and in an attempt to disarm him and take him safely into custody, but eventually the man was shot. He was rushed to hospital, but did not survive.

No officers were injured during the incident, according to official reports.

The IIO has been called in to investigate the circumstances involved in the fatal shooting.

Original Article
Author: Vancouver Observer 

WAITING GAME -- Romeo Phillion remains stuck in legal limbo more than a decade after winning bail for a murder he didn’t commit

How much misery – and inspiration – can one room hold?

At last month’s first International Wrongful Conviction Day ceremonies held at the Law Society of Upper Canada’s Convocation Hall, you didn’t need to be a conspiracy theorist to catch the whiff of subterfuge in the machinations of the state.

The Association in Defence of the Wrongly Convicted (AIDWYC) – the group behind the new day (eight other countries participated) – has slogged more than two decades in the trenches to highlight the need to prevent and remedy wrongful convictions. AIDWYC’s work has helped free innocent individuals in some of Canada’s highest-profile cases, among them Guy Paul Morin, David Milgaard, Steven Truscott and Clayton Johnson.

The Myth of Harper's Economic Competence

The Harper government has managed to convince many Canadians that it is a "steady hand" when it comes to the economy. This, of course, is a falsehood.

The Conservatives have deployed a well-oiled communications plan using catch phrases like "we're focused on jobs, growth and long term prosperity" or branding the federal budget as the "Economic Action Plan."

CMHC Says Canada's Housing Overvalued -- At Least Somewhat

OTTAWA — The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. said there is a modest amount of overvaluation in the country's housing markets, however other risk factors such was overheating, price acceleration, and overbuilding are not present.

In its house price analysis and assessment Monday, CMHC said overall, Canadian housing markets are "broadly consistent with underlying demographic and economic factors such as employment and interest rates.''

Robert Reich, Ex-Clinton Cabinet Secretary, Warns Canada Following U.S.'s Inequality Path

Canada is “moving towards exactly the same degree of income and wealth inequality” as the United States, says a former cabinet secretary in the administration of President Bill Clinton.

Robert Reich, who served as Clinton’s secretary of labour from 1993 to 1997 and now teaches economics at UC-Berkeley, told a Toronto crowd last Thursday that Canadians are deluding themselves if they believe the inequality problem doesn’t exist north of the border.

Reich’s comments come as a new study from TD Bank warns that Canada is at risk of seeing further growth in income and wealth inequality, and urges reforms to the tax system to prevent it.

Media Goes Wild Over Hagel Firing But Not Obama's Secret Afghanistan Reversal

There's little the Washington-centric political-media universe loves more than the story of a fallen star. The defenestration of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has reporters and pundits in a schadenfreude-driven tizzy. Was he fired? Was he in over his head? OMG, look at how the White House is dumping on him, as he departs! Who's passing nasty notes in class about him?

The presumably forced resignation of Hagel is indeed big news. The Obama administration is confronting a host of new national security challenges: ISIS, Ukraine, Ebola. So the guy (or gal) in charge of the Pentagon has to be nimble and able to handle this expanding and shifting to-do list. And Hagel, ever since his underwhelming performance at his confirmation hearing, has not been (at least in public) a confidence-inspiring Cabinet member. So perhaps President Barack Obama can do better—though the elbowing Hagel is receiving on the way out seems poor manners.

What the Media Are Not Telling You About the Late Marion Barry

A bevy of right-wing pundits, radio jocks and late-night comics will mock the passing of four-time DC mayor Marion Barry. In life and death, his enemies will take their shots without trying to understand why people—particularly the marginalized and criminalized—mourn his passing. Barry’s talent—and his sin in the eyes of the powerful—was the ability to organize a true urban political machine comprised of black residents in the old style of the white ethnic political bosses. Like the bosses of yesteryear, he gave and he took. He had vices both political and personal and he knew how to count votes. But Barry also understood social movements. He came out of the black freedom struggle in the 1960s where racists flicked lit cigarettes into his face. Barry always knew how to wear his scars like medals.

Wall Street’s Takeover of American Pensions: ‘A Policy Justified Entirely on Ignorance’

A key part of Wall Street’s $300 million expenditure on the recent midterm elections is the goal of moving as much of working Americans’ $3 trillion that sits in unguarded government pension funds into “privately managed, high-fee investments” as possible, Murtaza Hussain writes at The Intercept.

Europe’s Nuclear Giants Are Close to Collapse

LONDON—Plans to build two giant nuclear reactors in south-west England are being reviewed as French energy companies now seek financial backing from China and Saudi Arabia—while the British government considers whether it has offered vast subsidies for a white elephant.

A long-delayed final decision on whether the French electricity utily company EDF will build two 1.6 gigawatt European Pressurised water Reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset ? in what would be the biggest construction project in Europe—was due in the new year, but is likely to drift again.

What We Forgot on Remembrance Day

At our Remembrance Day ceremony in Lions Bay, we heard a great deal about sacrifices made in two world wars for democracy and freedom -- a pretty constant theme, I dare say, right across the country.

This troubles me greatly. Those who died for Canadian democracy -- indeed all those who served -- must be bitterly disappointed at the legacy they see.

What triggered this thought was when Finance Minister Joe Oliver didn't give his pre-budget speech to the House of Commons but to a group of political supporters in a private lunch and then on New York television. The Commons, with the basic obligation to approve the budget or not, was ignored as if it was irrelevant to the process -- which, as I will show, it is.

Netanyahu warns France ahead of Palestinian state vote

“Do they have nothing better to do at a time of beheadings across the Middle East, including that of a French citizen?” he told reporters in Jerusalem, referring to hiker Herve Gourdel who was executed by his jihadist captors in Algeria in September.

The GOP Controls Congress. Now It Can Change How Math Works.

When Republicans took control of both houses of Congress earlier this month, they won an important new power: They can change how Congress does math.

Seriously. Republicans, led by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), their budget guru, are considering altering the way Congress calculates the costs of tax cuts—a move that could make big tax cuts for the rich appear less costly than they really are.

The 'Jobs or Environment' Choice Is 'False' Says Mega-Union

It's one of the oldest environmental clichés around: by protecting Mother Nature we destroy the economy. Even though mounting evidence suggests the reverse is true, and that an ecologically sustainable economy is stronger than one that isn't, the polarizing choice between jobs and the environment still defines most climate change debates. That's especially the case in Canada, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper has vowed he won't allow climate action to "destroy jobs and growth."

You might expect that to play well with Canada's largest private sector union. Yet Unifor, which was formed when the Canadian Auto Workers union (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada (CEP) merged last year, "rejects the false conflict often posed between 'jobs' and the 'environment.'" By doing so it's claimed middle ground between activists fighting to shutter Canada's oil and gas sector and the corporations demanding zero limits to its expansion.

As Fords exit mayor's office, conflict probes intensify

When Toronto city councillors were debating a zoning change in 2011, Doug Ford withdrew from the discussion because it could have affected a property leased by packaged-meats giant Maple Leaf Foods — a major client of his family printing business.

But then when the matter came up weeks later for final approval at city council, Ford and his brother, Mayor Rob Ford, voted on it.

As the Fords pack up their City Hall offices after last month's Toronto municipal elections, which saw Doug lose his bid for the mayoralty and Rob reduced to councillor, scrutiny of those votes and others is only intensifying.

Minister knew Canada wouldn't meet Syrian refugee commitment

Immigration Minister Chris Alexander was secretly warned in the spring that Canada would not fulfil its promise to the United Nations to accept 1,300 Syrian refugees by the end of the year because of the ill-advised way in which the commitment was made.

Alexander also knew that only a handful of Syrian refugees had been approved to come to Canada when he dodged news media questions on the subject earlier this year, even hanging up in the middle of a national radio interview on the subject.

The revelations are contained in internal documents obtained by the Citizen, and come amid growing frustration by some over the Conservative government’s response to what the UN has described as the worst humanitarian crisis in a generation.

Canadian Wheat now cheapest in the world

This just in from the Reuters news agency out of Hamburg, Germany: Canadian wheat is now the cheapest in the world. How times change! With the single-desk Canadian Wheat Board farmers sold directly to overseas markets and got premium prices because of reliability of supply, honesty, and guaranteeing the highest quality grain in the world.

Secret witnesses? Curtailed cross-exams? The poison pill in the ‘victims’ rights bill’

With any new legislation the devil is often in the details — never more so than with this government, and never more so than with the so-called ‘Victims’ Bill of Rights’.

Read this one closely. It’s got some nasty surprises. Some background:

In April, the Conservative government unveiled Bill C-32, which they hyped as the first true effort to enhance the standing of crime victims in the justice system.

Tony Clement’s Orwellian ‘open government’ plan

Seeking to combat his government’s reputation for secrecy, suppression of information and closed-door decision-making, Treasury Board President Tony Clement unveiled an ambitious “action plan on open government” last week. It was so totally disconnected from reality that the initial reaction in the nation’s capital was incredulity. Bitter criticism followed.
He pledged to “maximize access to federally funded scientific research,” with no explanation of how this will happen when all 20,000 scientists on the federal payroll aremuzzled by his government.

Rudy Giuliani Says White Cops Are Needed To Stop Black People From Shooting Each Other

WASHINGTON -- Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani (R) on Sunday criticized what he described as lopsided coverage of the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, calling on the media to stop focusing on racially disproportionate police forces and pay more attention to black people killing one another.

"I find it very disappointing that you're not discussing the fact that 93 percent of blacks in America are killed by other blacks. We're talking about the exception here," Giuliani said on NBC's "Meet The Press," referring to the Aug. 9 killing of Michael Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, in Ferguson by Darren Wilson, a white police officer. Brown's death, which sparked extended and widely covered protests, has become a symbol for racial tensions in the United States.

Israel Mulls Hard-Line Legislation After Attacks

JERUSALEM (AP) — In a move likely to further inflame tensions with Israel's Arab citizens, the Israeli Cabinet on Sunday approved a bill to legally define the country as the nation-state of the Jewish people.

The decision, which set off a stormy debate that could bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's brittle coalition government, followed weeks of deadly Arab-Jewish violence and was denounced by critics as damaging to the country's democratic character and poorly timed at such a combustible moment.

Cleveland Police Shoot And Kill 12-Year-Old Carrying A Fake Gun

A 12-year-old boy, Tamir Rice, died early Sunday from complications after being shot in the stomach by Cleveland police. The officers believed that the fake pistol Rice had been brandishing on a playground was real.

According to, someone called 911 describing “a guy with a gun pointing it at people,” but the caller twice suggested the gun was “probably fake” and that the individual was “probably a juvenile,” but it’s unclear if this information was relayed to police. The officers arrived at the recreation center and ordered the boy to raise his hands, but when he reached for his gun instead, one of the officers fired twice, hitting the boy once.

Rasmea Odeh: Victim of Institutional Oppression, From Israel to the US

On November 10, leading Palestinian activist Rasmea Odeh, 67, was jailed after being found "guilty" of immigration fraud.

The US government claims Odeh lied on an immigration application when she said she had never been arrested, convicted or imprisoned.

Odeh is accused of concealing that she was charged by the Israeli military with bombing a supermarket when she was 22.

Not All Is Well In B.C.'s Woods

It might surprise you to learn that there is a place just a few hours from Victoria, B.C. that is home to Canada's version of the American redwoods. It's a place where you can walk amongst groves of centuries-old trees, some with trunks as wide as your living room; where you can swim in pools of emerald-green water by the base of cascading waterfalls; where bears, cougars, and wolves still roam the wild, rugged, temperate rainforest as they have for millennia. And it may come as more of surprise to learn that its days could now be numbered unless something is done to finally protect it.

Why I Left The CBC And Its Toxic Atmosphere

More than 50 years ago I became a "journalist" by the simple act of riding an elevator to the third floor of an office building in Halifax. I was shown to a desk in the far corner of a large newsroom and presented with the tools of my new trade -- a rotary dial telephone, an ancient typewriter, a massive roll of carbon-separated copy paper, and the largest ashtray that I'd ever seen.

The atmosphere was unique -- the reek of printers' ink and fresh newsprint and cigar smoke (my desk was on the edge of the sports department where everybody seemed to smoke cigars and wear suspenders). And there was noise -- typewriters, people shouting, the clatter of teletype machines, bells ringing, and the regular bang of pneumatic tubes that were the vehicles for delivering copy from the third floor news desk to the composing room upstairs where everything was set in type. By noon that day I was addicted to the atmosphere and I remember someone telling me to go home when I'd over-stayed my shift by a couple of hours.

Judge selection process remains a mystery

Four days after taking office in 2006, Prime Minister Stephen Harper named Marshall Rothstein to the nine-member Supreme Court of Canada.

The federal court jurist was one of three candidates on a shortlist drawn up by a new advisory committee of MPs, legal experts and prominent Canadians that had been created by the previous Liberal government.

Ten days later, the new prime minister introduced his own historic reform to the occult practice of selecting justices for the country's highest court. As a condition of employment, Rothstein had to appear before a nationally televised ad hoc, all-party committee of MPs and legal experts - the first Supreme Court nominee ever to do so. Three hours of genteel questioning followed.

Most Canadians support our troops being in Iraq, poll finds

About two-thirds of Canadians support the mission in Iraq and consider the Islamic State a threat to Canada that must be confronted overseas, a new poll says.

Days after Canada’s third bombing mission destroyed a warehouse and training ground in northern Iraq Tuesday, a Forum Research poll found 66 per cent of voters agree with the Canadian effort to combat the Islamic State, also known as ISIL. Our contribution to this war effort includes bombing missions by six CF-18 fighter jets.

Jeb Bush’s Reverse Midas Touch

In 1986, John Ellis Bush joined the five-person board of directors of a new Swiss-owned bank with the fitting name of The Private Bank and Trust. The institution, which was described that year by the Miami Herald as a place “where the money of wealthy foreigners is managed — very discreetly,” served as a fee-based investment bank for wealthy, mostly-Latino investors. The newspaper detailed the firm’s extreme secrecy, noting that upon arriving at the bank, “the general manager or one of his aides will lead you to one of three sparsely furnished conference rooms and will close the door. Under the bank’s rules, officers must meet with clients in secluded offices, not at their desks, where outsiders could see confidential papers.”

Alberta Premier Jim Prentice says the province has forgotten some key points about the sustainability of the energy industry and is vowing to work towards building as many pipelines as possible.

In a speech to the Economic Club's Canadian Energy Summit in Calgary on Friday, Prentice said the province needs to remember that hydrocarbons are only valuable when there are competing customers — and if there are multiple ways to ship the resource.

Millions of Immigrants Are Asked To Pay Taxes, But Won't Receive Federal Benefits

On Thursday, President Barack Obama granted millions of undocumented immigrants who are parents of U.S. citizens or permanent residents and have lived in the U.S. for at least five years the right to work and pay taxes. They don't, however, have the right to receive federal benefits, including subsidies under the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid coverage and food stamps.

The decision raises the question of why Congress and the White House won't go near benefits with a 10-foot pole.

Esther Sanchez, an undocumented immigrant who is living in Queens and involved with Faith in New York, which does community organizing, came to the U.S. from Mexico in 1997. She has three children under the age of 13 who are all U.S. citizens. She lives in constant fear that her husband, who is also undocumented and works as a chef at a pizza shop, won't come home. Speaking through a translator, she recalled a time when he was assaulted and the police responded to the incident, and she feared his status would be discovered.

Obama Quietly Broadens Mission In Afghanistan

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. troops in Afghanistan may once again engage Taliban fighters, not just al-Qaida terrorists, under new guidelines quietly approved by President Barack Obama, administration officials say.

The armed forces were to limit their operations in Afghanistan to counterterrorism missions against al-Qaida after this year, until Obama broadened the guidelines in recent weeks. The plan comes as the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan draws to a close, thousands of troops return home and the military prepares for a narrower counterterrorism and training mission for the next two years.

On Burnaby Mountain, Confronting the Gorilla

Kinder Morgan has been on my mind a lot lately and, when I woke up at four o'clock Friday morning, it was there, waiting: an 800-pound gorilla with greasy hair that lumbered across the border from Texas and is squatting now on Burnaby Mountain -- close enough to crowd me out of bed. Gorillas are lousy sleeping companions at the best of times, and this one doesn't sleep. Who has time when one's stated goal is to ''continually leverage our large footprint of assets and actively pursue expansions, joint ventures and acquisitions so that we can further increase... distributions and... dividends.''

BC Oil and Gas Tax Breaks Top $1 Billion. How Much Profit Flows Back? Unknown

British Columbia Auditor General Carol Bellringer raised eyebrows earlier this month when she pointed out that the province has extended more than $1 billion in tax credits to natural gas companies over the past two years.

But amid all the discussion of liquefied natural gas tax rates, industry tax credits and potential gas revenues, one figure is conspicuously absent. "Government take" is a key consideration for industry in any investment decision. How much of the profit from the sale of natural gas does a government take?

BOOTY CALL-OUT -- How did sexuality become the single most crucial way for women in pop culture to demonstrate their power?

This has indisputably been the year of the big, naked ass.

Kim Kardashian, curvaceous reality TV star and wife of Kanye West, upped the ante last week when she “broke the internet” by posing nude for Paper magazine. One particularly meme-worthy image features the 34-year-old’s bare, greased-up backside and tiny waist, contrasted with a prim, doe-eyed Kardashian vacantly gazing back at you, dear viewer, over a perfectly tanned shoulder.

As eye-opening as the images are,  (who knew such a big arse could be so flawless?), Kardashian was just following a trend established by other bubble-butted pop stars. Nicki Minaj’s art for the single Anaconda had the rapper squatting in a pink thong, also staring back at the camera over her shoulder. “I wanna see all the big fat-ass bitches in the motherfucking club. Fuck you if you skinny bitches,” Minaj declares at the end of the song.

Ted Cruz: Confused About Cicero

For better than two millennia, politicians have invoked classical Greek and Roman literature to construct, defend, and challenge ideologies of power. On Thursday, November 20, Senator Ted Cruz channeled his inner Cicero and delivered his own rendition of “In Catilinam (Against Catiline)” to denounce President Obama’s planned executive actions on immigration reform. “The words of Cicero—powerfully relevant 2,077 years later,” said Cruz, who adapted Cicero’s text to fit his 21st-century American context. In quoting Cicero, Cruz reached back to Harry Truman and Thomas Jefferson, who also were avid readers of the Roman philosopher, statesman, and orator.

Fundraiser paid ex-MP's legal tab

OTTAWA -- Winnipeg NDP MP Pat Martin wants the Conservatives to demand former MP Dean Del Mastro repay money raised by his riding association to pay for his legal bills.

Del Mastro, the former Conservative MP for Peterborough, was convicted last month of charges under the Elections Act, including spending more than he was allowed during the 2008 election and falsifying a document to cover it up. He resigned his seat Nov. 5.

Last year, Del Mastro's riding association raised nearly $40,000 for his legal-defence fund at a $600-a-plate dinner featuring former prime minister Brian Mulroney. More than two-thirds of the ticket price was eligible for a tax credit for federal political donations, netting each ticket buyer as much as $357.50 back on their taxes.

Harper’s on thin ice snubbing the premier of Ontario

In December 2013, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne had a meeting with Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Parliament Hill to discuss plans to build infrastructure to allow miners to exploit the Ring of Fire mineral fields north of Thunder Bay.

Both sides said that the meeting went well, but the next day, Wynne complained to reporters that Harper wouldn’t agree to her plan to expand the Canada Pension Plan.

Woman dies after airport scanner interferes with her pacemaker

A woman fitted with a pacemaker has died after passing through an airport scanner in the southern Russian town of Ulan-Ude.
Diana Tolstova, 30, died in the airport minutes after passing through the scanner. Her husband Maxim, 33, said that they had provided papers proving that Mrs Tolstova was fitted with the heart device – which is adversely affected by airport scanners.
"I don’t know what happened but she went through it anyway," he told Central European News agency.
"When we got to the departure gate she began to feel dizzy and suddenly collapsed.

Finally, you can hold buy-to-let in your pension. Here's how

Buy-to-let landlords may be about to have their biggest dream come true: being able to hold their properties in a personal pension.
This would make any future capital gains tax-free. Holding residential property in a pension has previously been impossible.
The change, which comes about as a result of a new fund that invests in rental properties, could even see investors receive a windfall from the taxman if the value of their buy-to-let portfolios is boosted by tax relief when it is put into the pension.