Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Anti-abortion protest bent rules on Parliament Hill

A visually striking anti-abortion protest on Parliament Hill technically broke several rules on the use of the public space, but federal officials made special exceptions to allow the event to proceed anyway.

The group was permitted to stake 100,000 small flags on a strip of the front lawn of the Hill early on Oct. 2. The mini-flags­ — blue for males, pink for females — represented the "approximately 100,000 preborn children terminated through abortion each year in Canada," said organizers.

In Response to Putin's New Cold War, the West Must Be Warm to the Russian People

Russian former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky was arrested in 2003 after criticizing President Vladimir Putin and spent 11 years in prison. In recent months, he has re-emerged in the public as a leader in a renewed opposition aimed at replacing Putin and bringing democracy to Russia.

European security today is facing its most serious challenge since the end of World War II. In essence, Russia's open annexation of Crimea and its barely concealed annexation of part of Ukraine are marking the end of the post-World War II world order.

Government Stays Open As Congress Advances Poison-Pill Spending Bill

WASHINGTON -- At least Democrats will have eggnog to wash down the poison pills they swallowed on Thursday as the House narrowly passed a government funding bill that will let Congress go home early for Christmas, and give Wall Street a fresh gift.

The House barely passed the inelegantly named "cromnibus" appropriations bill after President Barack Obama and House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) were forced into an unlikely alliance against rebellions from both parties, primarily led by the "Elizabeth Warren wing" and House Democrats.

Feds' Ashley Smith Inquest Response Is 'Orwellian': Lawyer

TORONTO - Canadian prison authorities have rejected core recommendations made by the Ashley Smith inquest a year ago but said they were still looking at ways to cut the use of segregation.

Coralee Smith, the mother of the mentally ill teen who choked to death in her isolation cell, denounced the government's inquest response as inadequate.

Taxpayers pay for 3 political staffers in Heritage dept. Winnipeg 'satellite' office

The NDP wants more scrutiny over cabinet ministers’ offices outside of Ottawa to determine whether they’re doing political work on the taxpayers’ tab.

NDP MP Charlie Angus says there are “way too many political players on the ice being paid for by taxpayers.” He wants greater oversight on the kind of work done in so-called ministers’ regional offices, or MROs.

Figures tabled in Parliament by Treasury Board Secretariat this week showed 39 ministerial staff were working outside of the National Capital Region in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

All About That Wall Street Giveaway That Elizabeth Warren Hates

On Tuesday evening, lawmakers released the text of the massive spending bill that Congress must approve to avoid a government shutdown. Buried on page 615 of that 1,603-page piece of legislation is a provision entirely unrelated to government funding that a few lawmakers managed to sneak into the bill without any public debate during last-minute negotiations. It's a Wall Street giveaway—written by Citigroup—that would allow banks to engage in more types of risky trading with taxpayer-backed money. Progressive Democrats and their allies have since launched an all-out campaign to strike the Citi-written provision from the spending bill. Elizabeth Warren railed against the provision on the Senate floor Thursday afternoon, warning, "A vote for this bill is a vote for taxpayer bailouts of Wall Street." As of Thursday afternoon, it was unclear whether House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) could secure enough votes to pass the spending bill containing this measure and send it to the Senate. (Update: The bill passed the House.)

The Spending Bill Includes a Huge Insurance Industry Giveaway Too

You can add insurance industry subsidies to the list of giveaways being shoved into the massive, last-minute government spending bill Congress is trying to vote on to avert a government shutdown. (Update: The bill passed the House.) A seven-year extension of the Terrorism Risk Insurance Act (TRIA)—which is essentially a government promise to bail out insurance companies after a major terrorist attack—has become part of this appropriations measure. The insurance industry and some of its bigger corporate clients claim renewing the 9/11-inspired law is critical to keeping the industry alive. Critics, citing the industry's own risk analysis, say it's pretty much useless.

John Brennan On CIA Torture Program: 'We Simply Failed'

LANGLEY, Va. -- In an unusual media address at CIA headquarters Thursday, CIA Director John Brennan conceded that his agency had been unprepared to operate the torture program it ran in the years following 9/11. But Brennan continued to defend the CIA against charges that the use of harsh interrogation techniques failed to produce valuable intelligence from terror suspects.
"We were not prepared. We had little experience housing detainees, and precious few of our officers were trained interrogators," Brennan said.

The Budget Deal Gives the Pentagon Just As Much Money As It Got During the Iraq War

Today's the last day for Congress to pass a budget deal and avert a government shutdown. Part of the $1.1 trillion"Cromnibus" package is the 2015 defense budget. While there's been some wrangling over pay and benefits for service members, finalizing the Pentagon budget has been relatively uncontentious. 
That's because the Pentagon is one of the few recipients of discretionary spending that most budget-slashing tea partiers and entitlement-friendly Democrats arereluctant to touch. If the current deal passes, the Pentagon's total funding in the 2015 fiscal year, including war-fighting costs, will come in at around $554 billion—close to what it got during the height of the Iraq War.

Rumain Brisbon Is Just the Latest to Be Shot Dead by a Cop Over a Phantom Gun

Last week, 34-year-old father of four Rumain Brisbon was shot and killed by a police officer at an apartment complex in north Phoenix. The officer, 30-year-old Mark Rine, approached Brisbon's SUV while investigating a suspected drug deal. According to police officials, after Brisbon stepped out of his car and Rine ordered him to show his hands, Brisbon reached for his waistband. Then Rine drew his gun, and Brisbon fled. After a short chase the two engaged in a struggle, with Rine firing two shots into Brisbon's torso. Rine later said that he thought he'd felt a gun in Brisbon's pocket, but it turned out to be a vial of oxycodone, a pain reliever. Rine has since been placed on desk duty pending an internal investigation.

Burger King's Move To Canada Could Save It $275 Million In Taxes

WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Fast food chain Burger King will avoid hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. taxes if, as planned, it completes its pending buyout of Canadian coffee-and-doughnuts chain Tim Hortons, a tax activist group said on Thursday.

In one of the most notable of several corporate tax "inversion" deals this year, Florida-based Burger King announced in late August it would buy Tim Hortons and put the headquarters of the combined company in Canada.

Israel Slams Irish Decision Recognizing Palestine

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel has slammed the decision of the Irish parliament to adopt a non-binding resolution supporting an independent Palestinian state.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon expressed disappointment Thursday at the decision, accusing the Irish parliament of giving voice to "statements of hatred and anti-Semitism directed at Israel in a way which we have not heard before."

Food prices 12% higher on average in real terms than in 2007

The amount households are spending on food has fallen by 3.9% since 2010 despite rising prices, according to figures published on Thursday. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs report also found that Brits are eating less beef, cutting back on biscuits and chocolate, and drinking fewer alcoholic and fizzy drinks – although we are drinking more low-calorie soft drinks.

UK households are buying less food but spending more of their budget on it since prices rose in 2007, with those on the lowest incomes hardest hit, according to a new report.

EU plans to scrap laws on clean air and waste recycling

EU plans to tackle air pollution that causes tens of thousands of premature deaths and make countries recycle more of their rubbish are to be scrapped, according to leaked documents.

At risk are a clean air directive designed to reduce the health impacts from air pollution caused by vehicles, industry and power plants, and a waste directive that would set states the target of recycling 70% of waste by 2030.

Latin Americans pay the price for corporate climate destruction

Information contained in a new report that details how multinational corporations are destroying the environment and causing serious climate damage in Latin America brings attention to an important area not being discussed at the UN COP 20 climate negotiations being held in Peru.

The report describes in detail how the destruction caused by three European multinational corporations is typical of the damage caused by multi-nationals throughout the continent.

CIA torture report: Why Canada can't claim innocence

Canadian agents may not have physically participated in CIA torture tactics, but Stephen Harper's claim that Canada played no role whatsoever misrepresents our relationship with U.S. spies, say a number of security analysts.

"It gives us a good conscience" to be able to deny participation in torture, but "it doesn't take away the fact that we're as guilty as them," says Michel Juneau-Katsuya, a former senior intelligence officer with CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

Defenders Of The CIA's Torture Program Dig In

Key figures in the George W. Bush administration and an architect of the CIA's post-9/11 torture program are defending the so-called enhanced interrogation tactics in the wake of the Senate Intelligence Committee's bombshell report.

The 500-page report summary released Tuesday sheds light on gruesome tactics used by CIA interrogators on terror suspects who were captured and brought to secret locations outside U.S. jurisdiction. Some detainees were subject to a practice known as "rectal feeding," in which food is pumped into an individual through the anus. Others were waterboarded until they were close to drowning. Interrogators deprived detainees sleep, forced them to maintain "stress positions" and in one instance reportedly played Russian roulette with a detainee, according to the summary.

Regulating Greenhouse Gas Emissions Isn't Crazy - Harper Is

Here in Lima, Peru at the United Nations climate change talks, I am watching negotiators from impacted countries like the Philippines working earnestly on a new agreement to reduce global climate pollution.

At the same time, I am reading stories back home about Prime Minister Stephen Harper telling the House of Commons yesterday that regulating greenhouse gas emissions from Canada's oil and gas sector would be "crazy."

Dick Cheney: Torture Report Is 'Full Of Crap'

Former Vice President Dick Cheney said that the the torture report released Tuesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee was "full of crap," during an interview with Fox News' Bret Baier on Wednesday.

Cheney claimed that the CIA's torture produced "actionable intelligence" and was necessary to protect the United States after 9/11. Cheney made similar comments to The New York Times during an interview on Tuesday, telling the newspaper that if I had to do it over again, I would do it.” Cheney made that same comment in March 2014, saying "the results speak for themselves" and denying that practices like waterboarding are torture.

Ottawa shooting: Federal nerve centre relied on dubious reports

The Harper government's nerve centre for emergencies issued a Canada-wide alert more than five hours after traumatic shootings at the National War Memorial and Parliament Hill, warning that up to five other assailants were involved in the attack.

The erroneous Oct. 22 report from the Government Operations Centre to top officials claimed to be drawing on news media and other open sources for this and other sometimes dubious information ­— raising questions about the ability of senior intelligence personnel to disseminate reliable data to front-line security.

Citigroup Wrote the Wall Street Giveaway The House Just Approved

A year ago, Mother Jones reported that a House bill that would allow banks like Citigroup to do more high-risk trading with taxpayer-backed money was written almost entirely by Citigroup lobbyists. The bill passed the House in October 2013, but the Senate never voted on it. For months, it was all but dead. Yet on Tuesday night, the Citi-written bill resurfaced. Lawmakers snuck the measure into a massive 11th-hour government funding bill that congressional leaders negotiated in the hopes of averting a government shutdown. President Barack Obama is expected to sign the legislation.

Poverty In Canada: 1 In 7 Lived In Low-Income Families In 2012, StatsCan Says

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says 13.8 per cent of the population lived in low-income households in 2012.

The agency says its measure of after-tax low-income deems a household to be low income if it has less than half the overall median income.

Petronas to hire hundreds of skilled foreign workers for B.C. LNG project

A liquefied natural gas venture in British Columbia led by Malaysia’s Petronas anticipates having to hire hundreds of skilled foreign workers during construction, underlining the skills shortage in Canada and the challenges of recruiting labour to build energy megaprojects.

Skilled foreign workers will account for almost 40 per cent of the work force required to build the proposed Pacific NorthWest LNG terminal near Prince Rupert, according to regulatory filings. At the peak of construction, there could be roughly 2,460 Canadian workers and 1,540 foreigners at the terminal site on Lelu Island.

Price gap help could be cancelled out with higher tariffs

Canadians could soon be paying more for a range of products, despite a move Tuesday by the Conservative government to lessen the gap between the prices paid by Canadians and Americans for the same goods.

A 2013 federal budget decision to raise tariffs on items from 72 countries takes effect Jan. 1, 2015, and is expected to net $300 to $350 million for the federal government.

Stephen Poloz says up to 30% overvalued housing big risk to economy

Consumer debt loads and house prices that could be as much as 30 per cent overvalued are the two biggest risks to Canada's economy, the Bank of Canada warned in its semi-annual Financial System Review on Wednesday.

The central bank report outlines the bank's thinking on what some of the biggest risks to Canada's economy are. On the whole, the bank says the risks of a major shock to the country's financial system haven't gotten worse in the six months since the bank's last report.

But it's still worried about two big issues: household debt, and what it calls "imbalances in the housing market."

This May Be The Most Remarkable Story In The CIA Torture Report

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Intelligence Committee’s long anticipated report on CIA interrogation and detention techniques is filled with anecdotes that make readers squeamish and disturbed. Tales of rectal feeding, threats to rape family members, death by hypothermia and the use of power drills punctuate the report's 500-plus-page summary.

The One Man Jailed For CIA Torture Tried To Expose It

The Justice Department is unlikely to prosecute anyone connected to the brutal torture techniques outlined in a Senate report released on Tuesday, but the one man already sitting in jail in connection with the CIA's interrogation program tried to draw public attention to it.

In an interview with ABC News in 2007, former CIA agent John Kiriakou was one of the first to acknowledge the existence of the CIA's torture program. Federal authorities brought criminal charges against him in 2008 for revealing the name of a covert agent to a reporter. Kiriakou pleaded guilty to those charges in 2012 and is currently serving a 30-month federal prison sentence.

Omnibus Bill Allows Wealthy Donors To Give Even More to Political Parties

WASHINGTON -- Congressional budget negotiators from both parties have included a provision in the bill to continue funding the government into next year that dramatically changes campaign finance law to allow lawmakers to solicit even bigger contributions from the wealthiest donors.

The omnibus bill includes a provision (on page 1,599) to create three separate funds within the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee. Each fund would be allowed to accept $97,200 from just one donor per year. If this change becomes law, it would mean that a single donor could give up to $324,000 per year, or $648,000 for a two-year election cycle, to finance the party’s operations.

Palestinian Official Dies After Clash With Israeli Troops

TURMUSIYA, West Bank, Dec 10 (Reuters) - A Palestinian minister died on Wednesday shortly after an Israeli border policeman shoved and grabbed him by the throat during a protest in the West Bank, an incident Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas described as barbaric.

Ziad Abu Ein, 55, a minister without portfolio, was among scores of Palestinian and foreign activists who were confronted at an Israeli checkpoint in the occupied Palestinian territory while heading to a demonstration against Jewish settlements.

Desperate workers on a Mexican mega-farm: 'They treated us like slaves'

Ricardo Martinez and Eugenia Santiago were desperate.

At the labor camp for Bioparques de Occidente, they and other farmworkers slept sprawled head to toe on concrete floors. Their rooms crawled with scorpions and bedbugs. Meals were skimpy, hunger a constant. Camp bosses kept people in line with threats and, when that failed, with their fists.

Escape was tempting but risky. The compound was fenced with barbed wire and patrolled by bosses on all-terrain vehicles. If the couple got beyond the gates, local police could arrest them and bring them back. Then they would be stripped of their shoes.

Congressional Leaders Agree To Cut Aid To College Students To Pay Student Loan Contractors

House and Senate leaders have agreed to cut funding for the nation’s largest source of grants for college students to pay student loan contractors, according to legislation that would fund the federal government through next year and avert a shutdown.

Money appropriated for the Pell grant program this year would fall $303 million, or 1.3 percent, to $22.5 billion, according to a proposal first introduced over the summer by retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). Most of those funds would instead be used to pay private contractors that collect borrowers’ monthly student loan payments. Harkin has defended the move as necessary.

UN Expert Calls For Prosecution Over U.S. Torture

GENEVA (AP) — All senior U.S. officials and CIA agents who authorized or carried out torture like waterboarding as part of former President George W. Bush's national security policy must be prosecuted, top U.N. officials said Wednesday.

It's not clear, however, how human rights officials think these prosecutions will take place, since the Justice Department has declined to prosecute and the U.S. is not a member of the International Criminal Court.

Zeid Raad al-Hussein, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, said it's "crystal clear" under international law that the United States, which ratified the U.N. Convention Against Torture in 1994, now has an obligation to ensure accountability.

The Horrifying Reason Why Your Fruit Is Unblemished

Back in 2010, I visited a labor camp that houses some of the migrant workers who grow America's fruit and vegetables. I found people living densely in shanty-like structures made of scrap metal and cinder block, surrounded by vast fields and long rows of greenhouses. Strangers in a strange land who didn't speak the language, hundreds of miles from home, they lived at the mercy of labor contractors who, they claimed, made false promises and paid rock-bottom wages. Like all Big Ag-dominated areas, the place had a feeling of desolation: all monocropped fields, mostly devoid of people, and lots of billboards hawking the products of agrichemical giants Monsanto and Syngenta.

Waterloo woman finds NEB e-mail lauding public’s inability to question pipelines

A Waterloo resident – now credited with finding crucial flaws in Enbridge’s Line 9 reversal pipeline in Southwest Ontario -- is sounding the alarm over an internal e-mail from the National Energy Board that appears to boast about new Harper government rules that reduce the public’s ability to ask questions at pipeline hearings.

U.S. Torture Program: Report Says Terror Suspects Brutalized For No Gain In Security

WASHINGTON - The United States brutalized scores of terror suspects with interrogation tactics that turned secret CIA prisons into chambers of suffering and did nothing to make America safer after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, Senate investigators concluded.

The Senate Intelligence Committee's torture report, years in the making, accused the CIA of misleading its political masters about what it was doing with its "black site" captives and deceiving Americans about the effectiveness of its techniques.

Rising F-35 price tag setting up tough choices, DND report suggests

A new Defence Department report says the cost of the F-35 has continued to rise, and suggests the Conservative government will face a tough choice if it goes ahead with the controversial stealth fighter.

In particular, the government may be forced to pony up an extra $1 billion or else cut back on the number of aircraft as a result of the weaker Canadian dollar, inflationary changes, and other countries slashing their own orders.

The F-35 annual update obtained by the Citizen presents the most up-to-date cost estimates for the stealth fighter. The reports are part of a government promise to inject more transparency after the auditor general blasted its handling of the project in 2012.

Mulcair says EU shouldn't support CETA if investor-state provision included

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair says that the European Union shouldn't support the Canada-EU Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) if it includes an investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provision.
iPolitics reports, "Mulcair told a French think tank [at the Royaumont conference] on Sunday that the European Union shouldn't support the deal if investor-state dispute settlement continues to be included." Mulcair said, "Europe shouldn't let itself be locked into an agreement that contains such a provision, especially since it'll serve as the basis for an eventual agreement with the United States. Because ultimately, all these tools, whether it be trade, public spending, natural resource exploitation, or finances, should be at the service of citizens."

Whose contempt? Burnaby Mountain, Kinder Morgan and the law

Burnaby Mountain, probably best known as the home of Simon Fraser University, is the site of a proposed expansion of Trans Mountain, Kinder Morgan's Edmonton to Vancouver tar sands pipeline. The mountain is also unceded Indigenous territory, part of the traditional land of the Musqueum, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh Nations. But for the last few months, Burnaby Mountain played host to a concerted struggle for climate justice and Indigenous sovereignty, a battle over one pipeline that became a proxy fight over the Harper government's fixation with extractive industry as a whole.

A bill meant to sow conflict, confrontation with First Nations does its job

OTTAWA—As a troubled Assembly of First Nations convenes to choose a new national chief, two years after the Idle No More movement, the Harper government is back to its default position with aboriginals.

They are at war again, withholding funding and heading to court.

Yet again, the federal government and First Nations are talking past each other, not to each other.

Veterans Affairs overspends on administration, falls short on benefits

Veterans Affairs allowed tens of millions of dollars in approved funding on veterans programs – such as death and disability benefits – to go unspent last year while exceeding its budget for internal services like communications.

A closer look by The Globe and Mail at the department’s line-by-line public accounts shows the biggest source of the gap – or lapse – comes from the department’s two biggest categories: the health-care program and disability and death compensation.

Harper Rules out Crackdown on Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Falling oil prices have made the possibility of placing restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions for the oil and gas sector a "crazy" endeavour according to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Harper said Canada would not unilaterally impose restrictions on the industry.

The prime minister made his assertion during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday when, once again, he was pressed by the New Democrats on when emission limits, promised since 2007, would be introduced.

Dick Cheney, CIA Urged New York Times Not To Run Secret Prison Story

NEW YORK -- In November 2002, then-Vice President Dick Cheney and senior CIA officials succeeded in urging The New York Times not to run an article disclosing the name of the country where an al Qaeda operative was held.

News of the government's request could be found in the executive summary of the Senate Intelligence Committee torture report released Tuesday.

Republicans Argue Torture Helped America

WASHINGTON -- Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee accused their Democratic colleagues Tuesday of selectively choosing examples in their damning investigation of CIA torture practices, and of ignoring the patent fact that "enhanced interrogation" was effective.

"The study essentially refuses to admit that CIA detainees, especially CIA detainees subjected to enhanced interrogation techniques, provided intelligence information which helped the United States government and its allies to neutralize numerous terrorist threats," said Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.), the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senate Report Says Torture Program Was More Gruesome, Widespread Than CIA Claimed

WASHINGTON -- The Senate Intelligence Committee on Tuesday released the highly anticipated 500-page summary of its report on the CIA’s post-9/11 torture program, providing a sobering glimpse into one of the darkest chapters in the U.S. government's history.

In the report, a product of a 5-year investigation, Senate investigators reveal sordid details of the systemic and individual failures by the agency personnel who ran the "enhanced interrogation program" -- the government's euphemism for systematic torture -- during the George W. Bush administration. The program involved capturing terrorism suspects and shipping them to secret overseas prisons, where they were subjected to techniques such as waterboarding.

Senate Report: CIA Torture Was Brutal and Ineffective

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence finally released its extensive report on torture methods employed by the Central Intelligence Agency following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The full report paints a damning picture of an out-of-control program that was much less effective and far more brutal than previously known.

Harper disowns veterans charter as Opposition demands Fantino resign

OTTAWA - The new veterans charter, a marquee deal defended and championed by Stephen Harper's Conservatives since 2006, suddenly became a "Liberal policy" Tuesday as the government weathered more demands for Julian Fantino's resignation.

The veterans affairs minister, who was on his feet constantly during the previous day's question period, rose infrequently on Tuesday in the face of an unrelenting barrage of NDP and Liberal attacks.

Instead, he was defended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who tried to put some political distance between his government and a class-action lawsuit in B.C. that argues the charter is unconstitutional and discriminatory against modern veterans.

Auditor General: Ontarians Paying Billions Extra For Electricity

TORONTO - People in Ontario are paying billions of dollars extra for electricity thanks to a flawed smart meter program and the above-market rates the province pays most power generators, Ontario's auditor general reported Tuesday.

Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli disputed the auditor's conclusions, suggesting her numbers were inaccurate because she didn't understand the "complex" electricity system.

Ratepayers will pay $50 billion between 2006 and 2015 because of an extra charge on their electricity bills that covers the gap between guaranteed prices paid to contracted power generators and the market price, auditor general Bonnie Lysyk wrote in her annual report.

Harper calls oil and gas regs ‘crazy economic policy’ in times of cheap oil

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has definitively slammed the door on regulating Canada’s oil and gas sector, calling it a “crazy, crazy” economic policy under current global oil prices.

His comments in the House of Commons come as international talks are underway in Lima, Peru, in an effort to reach a new post-2020 global agreement on curbing greenhouse gas emissions.

Harper was emphatic that Canada will not move unilaterally to curb fast-rising emissions from Alberta’s oilsands.

Original Article
Author:  Bruce Cheadle

Election law changes could boost Conservative MPs' campaign tools

A little-noticed provision in the Conservative government's controversial bid to rewrite Canada's election laws could boost usage of a mobile campaign application developed by two backbench Conservative MPs.

Under the old law, candidate representatives or scrutineers were prohibited from using any communications device at a voting station during polling hours.

But under changes brought in by Democratic Reform Minister Pierre Poilievre last spring, scrutineers will be free to use smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices while monitoring turnout, provided they don't take photos, record audio or video, prevent an elector from casting a ballot or "violate the secrecy of the vote."

CIBC Closes Concordia Student's Bank Account Because He's Iranian

Arash Khodadadi, a Montreal university student, has been forced by CIBC to close his chequing and savings accounts because he is from Iran.

The Canadian government has extensive economic sanctions against Iran, which are meant to pressure the country to halt its suspected nuclear weapons program.

However, some banks are applying those sanctions to ordinary people who come to Canada to work or study.

The Gargoyle: Staff numbers in ministerial offices ballooned under Harper

The Conservative government’s enthusiasm for cutting costs and reducing the size of the public service appears to end at the elevator to the minister’s office.

Data tabled in the House of Commons on Monday shows the number of political staffers working for cabinet ministers has ballooned under the Tories, up 21 per cent per cent from the last year of Liberal rule.

Paul Martin’s government employed 452 people as “exempt” ministerial aides, advisors and other staff in 2005. This year, that number has swollen to 549 bodies on the public payroll.

Israel's destruction of multistorey buildings: extensive, wanton and unjustified

Air strikes on landmark buildings at the tail end of the Israeli military’s Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in August 2014 were a deliberate and direct attack on civilian buildings and amount to war crimes, says Amnesty International today. 

“Nothing is immune”: Israel’s destruction of landmark buildings in Gaza provides evidence that attacks on four multistorey buildings during the last four days of the conflict were in contravention of international humanitarian law and calls for them to be independently and impartially investigated. 

17 Disgraceful Facts Buried In The Senate’s 600 Page Torture Report

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA’s extensive use of torture reveals that the agency regularly misled the White House and Congress about the information it had obtained from detainees and used techniques that are far more brutal than it — or former Bush administration officials — had previously acknowledged.
For instance, President George W. Bush insisted that “[t]his government does not torture people” and claimed that the intelligence it produced was instrumental to preventing terrorism on American soil and capturing high-value targets, including Osama bin Laden. But the Committee’s five year investigation — and examination of more than six million CIA documents — reveals all of those assertions to be false.