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.]

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Private Prison Companies Foresee Increased Profits as Ruling Limits Immigrant Detentions

Just before a federal court in Washington granted a preliminary injunction to temporarily halt the Obama administration's policy of incarcerating asylum-seeking mothers and children as a deterrent to other potential migrants, two major private prison corporations released their projections for 2015 earnings, and are betting on increased profits this year.

Corrections Corporation of America (CCA) and GEO Group, which have profited heavily from contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to lock up undocumented immigrants - including mothers and children seeking asylum from Central American countries - are predicting more such contracts at the state and federal level in 2015.

“He makes George W. Bush and Nixon look good”: Why Obama’s attack on privacy is so historic

As increasingly tends to be the case, this year’s edition of the Academy Awards was deemed by many to have been a boring dud. But aside from Chris Pine’s tears and Patricia Arquette’s clarion call for true gender equality, one of the few memorable moments of the show was undoubtedly when Laura Poitras won the best documentary award for her movie on the Edward Snowden NSA leaks, “Citizenfour.” Flanked by the film’s producer and editor, as well as Salon alum Glenn Greenwald, Poitras used her acceptance speech to argue that the Snowden leaks “don’t only expose a threat to our privacy but to our democracy itself.”

Kinder Morgan Fails To Answer Hundreds Of Questions: Vancouver, Burnaby Mayors Say

VANCOUVER - Kinder Morgan has come under fire from two Metro Vancouver mayors for failing to answer hundreds of questions about a proposed $5.4-billion pipeline expansion.

The mayors of Vancouver and Burnaby issued a news release Friday criticizing the company for only answering half of their questions during the final round of National Energy Board consultations on the Trans Mountain project.

Violence At Rikers Island Jail Leaves 7 Guards Injured

A brawl among more than a dozen inmates at a New York City jail plagued by violence has left seven correctional officers injured.

On Friday morning, 14 inmates began fighting in a classroom at Rikers Island, a facility dogged by complaints of mistreatment of inmates. Jail officials quickly ended the fight after using "chemical agents" on the inmates, Department of Corrections Public Information Officer Jack Ryan told The Huffington Post. Ryan did not specify what the agents used were.

The seven officers that sustained injuries in the fight were all taken to the hospital to be evaluated. Ryan described the injuries as minor.

Rick Perry: I Care About "Real" Pollution, Not Climate Change

Rick Perry said Friday that he cares about “real” pollution—but not climate change pollution.

Texas “decreased our nitrogen oxide levels, which by the way is real. It’s a real emission,” he said, when asked about climate change during an appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) near Washington. He took credit for cuts to Texas air pollution over his 14 years as governor. “Our carbon dioxide levels were down, whether you believe in this whole climate change concept or not.”

Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov Shot Dead In Moscow

MOSCOW (AP) -- Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down Saturday near the Kremlin, just a day before a planned protest against the government.

The death of Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, ignited a fury among opposition figures who assailed the Kremlin for creating an atmosphere of intolerance of any dissent and called the killing an assassination. Putin quickly offered his condolences and called the murder a provocation.

Nemtsov was working on a report presenting evidence that he believed proved Russia's direct involvement in the separatist rebellion that has raged in eastern Ukraine since last April. Ukraine and the West accuse Russia of backing the rebels with troops and sophisticated weapons. Moscow denies the accusations.

Why is Stephen Harper’s anti-terrorism bill so popular?

Prime Minister Stephen Harper would like it to be known that Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act, is “strongly supported by Canadians.” Indeed, an early-days Angus Reid poll did show that 82 per cent of us support the new law, which the Conservatives have been rushing to put away as if it were past legislative last call, the lights had gone on and the waitress was coming to clear it from the table. Bottoms up!

“Cheers,” much of Canada shouted. “If people have nothing to hide, they shouldn’t fear scrutiny,” some said, giving the Conservatives a free pass on very much not wanting the bill scrutinized.

Rona Ambrose's Speech On 'Health Care Innovation' Abruptly Switches To.. Terrorism

CALGARY - Federal Health Minister Rona Ambrose made an unexpected leap Friday from talking about health-care innovation to fears over the threat of the Islamic State.

Ambrose was discussing health care in a speech to the Calgary Chamber of Commerce when she abruptly changed topics.

"We're also proud of our record of making careful, principled choices reflecting the values of Canadians whether it's economic and financial security or creating and protecting jobs but also keeping Canada and Canadians safe in a dangerous and an uncertain world," Ambrose said.

Exxon Settles $9 Billion Pollution Case in New Jersey for Far Less

A long-fought legal battle to recover $8.9 billion in damages from Exxon Mobil Corporation for the contamination and loss of use of more than 1,500 acres of wetlands, marshes, meadows and waters in northern New Jersey has been quietly settled by the state for around $250 million.

The lawsuits, filed by the State Department of Environmental Protection in 2004, had been litigated by the administrations of four New Jersey governors, finally advancing last year to trial. By then, Exxon’s liability was no longer in dispute; the only issue was how much it would pay in damages.

KKK Was Terrorizing America Decades Before Islamic State Appeared

When Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) returned home from a trip to the Middle East in October, he offered a reflection on the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, to the Bangor Daily News:

"My characterization of ISIS is that they have 14th century ethics and 21st century weapons," he said.

King and others who have reached into the Middle Ages for an apt Islamic State comparison may be going back further than they need to. The 19th and 20th centuries work just as well.

Greek Prime Minister Rules Out Third Bailout

ATHENS, Greece (AP) — Greece's new radical left government has no intention of seeking another bailout deal from international creditors and will spend coming months trying to ease the terms of its current commitments, the financially struggling country's prime minister said Friday.

Alexis Tsipras remarks came hours after lawmakers in Germany, a key rescue loan provider, overwhelmingly approved the four-month extension of Greece's extant deal.

"The bailout agreements are over, both in form and in essence," Tsipras told a cabinet meeting. "Some people are betting on a third bailout in June ... but we will disappoint them."

Fifty Years After Bloody Sunday in Selma, Everything and Nothing Has Changed

Congress can’t agree on much these days, but on February 11, the House unanimously passed a resolution awarding the Congressional Gold Medal—the body’s highest honor—to the foot soldiers of the 1965 voting-rights movement in Selma, Alabama.

The resolution was sponsored by Representative Terri Sewell, Alabama’s first black Congresswoman, who grew up in Selma. Sewell was born on January 1, 1965, a day before Martin Luther King Jr. arrived in Selma to kick off the demonstrations that would result in passage of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) eight months later. On February 15, 2015, Sewell returned to Selma, which she now represents, to honor the “unsung heroes” of the voting-rights movement at Brown Chapel A.M.E. Church, the red brick headquarters for Selma’s civil-rights activists in 1965, taking the pulpit where King once preached.

Why the Disturbingly Sane Voices at CPAC Should Scare You

I’ve been covering the Conservative Political Action Conference, or CPAC, on and off for more than a decade. I’ve seen it in full jingoistic flower early in George W. Bush’s administration, when attendees could buy bumper stickers than said “No Muslims = No Terrorists” and hurl beanbags at toy trolls holding signs that said “The Homosexual Agenda” or “The Liberal Media.” I’ve seen it during moments of despair, when conservatives realized that Republican leaders wouldn’t enact the entirety of their kamikaze agenda. But I have rarely seen it as slick and sunny as this year, and that scares me.

Bill C-51 Spurs More Than 100 Academics To Write Letter Urging Rejection

OTTAWA - The Conservative government's anti-terrorism bill will lead to spy scandals due to weak scrutiny of Canadian intelligence agencies, says a new legal analysis.

Canada’s real-time oversight of spy agencies is "imperfect" and its after-the-fact review of security activities is perhaps "close to broken," say law professors Craig Forcese and Kent Roach.

In a paper published Friday, they say the "poorly constructed" and "inherently flawed" anti-terrorism bill introduced last month will only make things worse because it expands spying and information-sharing powers.

Toronto now Canada's inequality capital, United Way study shows

Toronto is now the income inequality capital of Canada, a new United Way Toronto report shows, with the gap between rich and poor households in the city widening at double the national pace.

The study, to be released Friday, says income inequality in Toronto ballooned by 31 per cent between 1980 and 2005, the most drastic increase of any major Canadian city. On average, the gap across the country grew by 14 per cent.

Drawing on a growing body of research on income disparity, the report warns Toronto’s growing divide could dampen social mobility, weaken community bonds and undermine economic stability.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Canada Won't Take 'No' For an Answer on Keystone XL

Although Barack Obama issued an immediate veto of legislation from Congress that would have forced approval of the long-debated and highly contentious Keystone XL pipeline, the American president still needs to give the project — vehemently opposed by his core constituency but favored by the Republican majority in Congress — a clear thumbs-up or thumbs-down on his own.

That’s a decision that the Obama administration has been weighing for the entirety of its six years, leaving the Canadian company behind the proposal frustrated and the Canadian government, which is deeply interested in ramping up operations at the Albertan oil patch that would be serviced by the pipeline, even more so.

So what’s terrorism? Whatever Harper says it is.

Steve the terror-monger has a lot of reasons to call an early election — not least the fact that the popularity of his security bill, which proposes to turn Canada into a police-state, is likely to be short-duration.

Having managed to convince the public (and apparently Justin Trudeau), that C-51 is going to save us from the beheading hordes, the temptation to take political advantage must be great. An Angus Reid reports that 82 per cent of Canadians have been seduced by this crazed legislation; support is even higher in Quebec, at 87 per cent.

Bill C-51 defies key rulings on security certificates, lawyers say

Immigration experts say the sweeping anti-terrorism bill would give the government — and its spy agency, CSIS — new power to withhold information in cases where suspects are held on security certificates.

The changes are included in Bill C-51's amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which have received little attention to date.

Security certificates allow the government to detain and deport permanent residents or foreign nationals considered to be a security threat using secret evidence that the accused is not allowed to see.

We Can Afford a Missing Women's Inquiry

If the Harper government has been successful at one thing, it is perpetuating the myth that indigenous peoples in Canada can either have an inquiry or they can have "action" to end the epidemic of missing and murdered indigenous women. Many have challenged this notion presented by federal ministers on a near daily basis.

Challenging this false exclusivity is important for me as the Aboriginal Affairs critic for the federal New Democratic Party. That our government would choose against taking steps to end violence against indigenous women is as offensive as the thought that aboriginal families do not deserve a thorough inquiry into the deaths and disappearances of more than 1,200 women.  

Nova Scotia Bill 1: The saga continues

The drama continues in Nova Scotia this week, after the provincial Liberals announced plans to create new legislation that would reassign health-care workers to unions not necessarily of their choosing.
In a last-minute upset, the Nova Scotia Minister of Health and Wellness, Leo Glavin, announced last week that the provincial government will fire arbitrator Jim Dorsey, after he rendered an unsatisfactory decision in the dispute over the controversial Health Authorities Act, Bill 1.  
"I don't know what to call this," said NSGEU president Joan Jessome, whose union is one of four affected by the bill. "It's quite the theatre."
Dorsey was hired as the government-appointed mediator/arbitrator in October 2014 to determine what union representation would look like after Nova Scotia's 49 existing health-care bargaining units were streamlined into four province-wide units -- one each for nurses, health-care, clerical, and support workers. 

From opposition to retreat: Tom Mulcair and Bill C-51

At the end of last week it looked like Tom Mulcair and the NDP caucus were going to rise to the occasion on one of the great threats to Canadian civil liberties and Canada's activist community in many years, Bill C-51. 
Bill C-51 is sweeping and dangerous. From the Privacy Commissioner, to commentators like Karl Nerenburg, to Green Party leader Elizabeth May, to the Communist Party, a wide-array of people and organizations have denounced and exposed the very disturbing implications of its passage.
Mulcair seemed to say as much and seemed poised to take a strong stance rejecting the bill, which earned him the praise of many -- myself included -- and which reassured many on the left that Canada's historically social democratic party was not going to abandon them or let them down.

ISIS recruits: Radicalized young women motivated by ideology, sense of adventure

Young women who become radicalized and make the trip to ISIS-controlled lands are motivated by the same reasons as male recruits, including a sense of adventure and a desire to right perceived wrongs in the Muslim world, according to experts.

When they arrive they are usually quickly married to a fighter with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and begin a strictly controlled domestic life of child-rearing, cooking and cleaning.

Instalment loans the new high-interest danger for consumers

At a time when she should be approaching her golden years, 57-year-old grandmother Helen Parry is instead supporting two adult children on a wage that hasn’t increased in eight years.

"Cost of living rises but the pay doesn’t and the utilities and everything goes up … so it gets harder each year," Parry says.

Last year, with bills piling up, Parry, who lives in Brampton, Ont., asked her bank for a loan but was turned down because of bad credit.

The Inside Story Of How Citizens United Has Changed Washington Lawmaking

When Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy cast the deciding vote to gut a century of campaign finance law, he assured the public that the unlimited corporate spending he was ushering in would “not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption.” Because those authorized to give and spend unlimited amounts were legally required to remain independent of the politicians themselves, Kennedy reasoned, there was no cause for concern.

Just five years later, in a development that may be surprising only to Justice Kennedy, the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision is reshaping how, how much and to whom money flows in Washington.

How regulators and legislators make it harder for you to use solar power

When homeowners or businesses install solar panels, state laws ensure utility companies pay for unused electricity that is routed back into the power grid - a practice known as net metering.

Currently, 43 states and the District of Columbia have implemented net metering policies, some of which are more favorable than others, but all of which turn the power grid into a two-way street.

The cost of rooftop solar-powered electricity will be on par with prices for common fossil-fuel power generation in just two years, and the technology to produce it will only get cheaper, according to Deutsche Bank's leading solar industry analyst, Vishal Shah.

Opposition objections to 'anti-terror' bill go far beyond lack of oversight

For the opposition parties, the lack of effective oversight for Canada's spies and police in the government's new anti-terrorism legislation is one serious flaw. 
It is not the only one, however. 
In a CBC Radio interview on Thursday morning, former Conservative Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day tried to claim that the opposition parties have not said what, substantively, they would change in the proposed legislation, Bill C-51.

Egypt Should Send Canadian Journalist Mohamed Fahmy Home

Mohamed Fahmy was due to begin his retrial in an Egyptian criminal court two days ago on charges of terrorism and broadcasting "false news." But when the court convened, the judges postponed the new trial to Mar. 8. This is when Mr. Fahmy, a journalist who has committed no crime and is currently on bail, must next return to the defendants' soundproof cage.

Earlier this month Egypt's highest court issued its reasons for overturning the original conviction and sentence in the case. The Court of Cassation's decision recognized that the original trial was unfair, as I have previously explained. The judges noted the catalogue of due process violations that revealed a biased and unjust approach by the authorities. The court also considered that Fahmy's conviction for acts of "terrorism" was nonsensical since he was not even charged with threatening or using violence. It concludes that the trial court judgment was "flimsy and based on conflicting reasoning that undermines it and justifies overturning it on appeal."

Crude Awakening: How the Keystone Veto Dashes Canada's 'Superpower' Dreams

Barack Obama's veto of Keystone XL has placed the export pipeline for Canadian tar-sands crude on its deathbed. Earlier in February, the Environmental Protection Agency revealed that Keystone could spur 1.37 billion tons of excess carbon emissions — providing the State Department with all the scientific evidence required to spike the project, permanently. If the news has cheered climate activists across the globe, it also underscored the folly of Canada's catastrophic quest, in recent years, to transform itself into a dirty-energy "superpower."

In the minds of many American right-wingers, Canada may be a socialist hell-scape of universal health care and quasi-European welfare policies. But it is also home to 168 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, the third-largest in the world. Since ultraconservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper — famously described by one Canadian columnist as "our version of George W. Bush, minus the warmth and intellect" — took power in 2006, he's quietly set his country on a course that seems to be straight from the Koch brothers' road map. Harper, 55, has gutted environmental regulation and fast-tracked colossal projects to bring new oil to market. Under his leadership, Canada has also slashed corporate taxes and is eliminating 30,000 public-sector jobs.

ISIS is proof that the 14-year 'war on terror' has been a catastrophic failure

TODAY al-Qaeda-type movements rule a vast area in northern and western Iraq and eastern and northern Syria, several hundred times larger than any territory ever controlled by Osama bin Laden.

It is since bin Laden’s death that al-Qaeda affiliates or clones have had their greatest successes, including the capture of Raqqa in the eastern part of Syria, the only provincial capital in that country to fall to the rebels, in March 2013.

Quebec judge wouldn't hear case of woman wearing hijab

A Quebec judge told a woman appearing in her Montreal courtroom she would not hear her case until she removed her hijab.

In an audio recording of the proceedings obtained by CBC News, Judge Eliana Marengo is heard telling Rania El-Alloul on Tuesday that the courtroom is a secular place and that she is not suitably dressed.

"Hats and sunglasses for example, are not allowed.  And I don't see why scarves on the head would be either," Marengo says in the recording.

How Congress Remade The Economy In Its Own Awful Image

A jury ruled on Wednesday that Apple must pay $532.9 million for infringing on three patents owned by a firm that could serve as a textbook definition of a patent troll. Smartflash LLC had essentially claimed to own the idea of selling stuff with smartphones, arguing it was entitled to a share of all iPhone sales as a result.

Apple and plenty of other technology experts see the verdict as absurd. But what the case says about Congress is actually more frightening than its implications for the judicial system.

New ISIS Video Shows Militants Smashing Ancient Iraq Artifacts

BAGHDAD (AP) — The Islamic State group released a video on Thursday showing militants using sledgehammers to smash ancient artifacts in Iraq's northern city of Mosul, describing the relics as idols that must be removed.

The destructions are part of a campaign by the IS extremists who have destroyed a number of shrines — including Muslim holy sites — in order to eliminate what they view as heresy. They are also believed to have sold ancient artifacts on the black market in order to finance their bloody campaign across the region.

John Boehner Defends Benjamin Netanyahu Speech

(Reuters) - U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner on Thursday challenged an assertion by the Obama administration that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's upcoming speech to Congress about Iran's nuclear program would be destructive to U.S.-Israeli relations.

"The president's national security advisor says it's destructive for the prime minister of Israel to address the United States Congress. I couldn't disagree more," Boehner said at his weekly news conference.

"The American people and both parties in Congress have always stood with Israel and nothing, and no one, could get in the way," the Republican leader said.

Scott Walker Says He Can Take On ISIS Because He Took On Labor Unions

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) on Thursday said his experience undermining labor unions in Wisconsin has prepared him to take on the threat of the Islamic State in the Middle East.

"If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world," Walker told a packed crowd at the Conservative Political Action Conference, in response to a question about how he would fight the terrorist group, which has killed thousands in Iraq and Syria.

Everything You Wanted to Know About the Bee Die-Off

For years, honeybees were dying, and no one knew why.

There have been some glimmers of hope recently. The number of bee deaths wasn't as dramatic last winter. Studies began pointing the finger at pesticides.

But a simple fact remains: Bees still are on the decline, and no one's sure why.

They're dying in large numbers, and scientists are scrambling to identify the cause. Beekeepers used to see about 5 or 10 percent of the bees in their hives die every year, but starting in 2006, losses jumped to 30 percent. About 10 million beehives, worth an estimated $2 billion, have been lost since then. The numbers are down slightly for last winter, when beekeepers lost about 23 percent.

The Human Costs Of Chris Christie’s Attack On Planned Parenthood

On the first day of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, right-wing attendees gathered to discuss how to get pro-life Republicans elected in blue states. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was held up as a prime example — applause erupting to praise the potential presidential contender for vetoing funding for Planned Parenthood five times over the past five years.
“I ran as a pro-life candidate in 2009 unapologetically, spoke at the rally on the steps of the statehouse. I was the first governor to ever speak at a pro-life rally on the steps of the statehouse in the state of New Jersey,” Christie told the approving crowd. “And I vetoed Planned Parenthood funding five times out of the New Jersey budget.”

What 7 States Discovered After Spending More Than $1 Million Drug Testing Welfare Recipients

As state legislatures convene across the country, proposals keep cropping up to drug test applicants to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, or welfare. Bills have been introduced so far inMontana, Texas, and West Virginia, with a handful of others also considering such a move. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) has gone further, proposing to drug test applicants for food stamps and unemployment benefits. They follow recent bills put into action in Maine, Michigan, and Mississippi.

Ottawa Largely Ignored 700 Recommendations On Missing Aboriginal Women, Study Finds

A new study says the federal government is ignoring dozens of recommendations on how to reduce the number of missing and murdered aboriginal women.

The study, which analyzed 58 others on violence against native women, found most of the reviews spanning two decades agreed on the root causes of that violence.

But Ottawa has largely ignored more than 700 recommendations to address the issue, says the report, which was commissioned by the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women that includes Amnesty International.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Bill C-51 could be the biggest bait and switch Canada has ever seen: opinion

In the spring of 2011 the Government of Canada was renamed the Harper Government. While to some it may seem a relatively minor issue of semantics, in retrospect it has come to signify something much greater: the dismantling of the Canada you grew up in, and its replacement with a strange and frightening new Canada birthed behind the closed doors of the Prime Minister’s Office. While Canadians have complained about the unchecked power of majority governments in the past, this one feels like a landslide that just keeps coming.

George W. Bush once famously intoned that “you’re either with us, or you’re with the terrorists.” Now with the proposal of Bill C-51 the Harper Government has essentially said the same thing, only with a twist. You’re either with the Harper Government and the oil companies, or you’re with the terrorists. Disagreeing is treasonous.

Palast to Syriza: Don't Lie, It's Impossible to End Austerity Within the Eurozone

Renowned investigative journalist and bestselling author Greg Palast explains why he believes Syriza cannot deliver on its economic platform while keeping Greece within the eurozone and why the euro is harmful for the Greek economy.

This interview was conducted in late January 2015 and remains relevant because it reflects Greg Palast's views regarding Syriza's positions, how Syriza should respond to the demands of the troika and what other options might exist for Greece, including a possible "Grexit."
Renowned investigative journalist and bestselling author Greg Palast explains why he believes Syriza cannot deliver on its economic platform while keeping Greece within the eurozone and why the euro is harmful for the Greek economy. He also provides insights regarding the role of Goldman Sachs in perpetuating the Greek economic crisis, and on the proposed Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Texas Bill Bans Sustainability Program, Based On A Glenn Beck Conspiracy Theory

Two Texas lawmakers have proposed a pair of bills that would prevent the state from funding programs which attempt to implement the ideas of Agenda 21, a non-binding and voluntary United Nations plan for sustainable development signed by the United States and 178 other governments in 1992.
According to the Texas Tribune, the bills proposed by Republican state lawmakers Rep. Molly White and Sen. Bob Hall would prohibit funds from states, counties, and public universities from going to organizations “accredited by the United Nations to implement a policy that originated in the Agenda 21 plan.” The Agenda 21 plan — signed by President George H. W. Bush — includes recommendations to conserve public lands, rein in air pollution, build more sustainable cities, combat poverty, and strengthen the voices of women, indigenous groups, and farmers.

Hundreds of expert recommendations on violence against Indigenous women and girls go unimplemented

An alarming study released today shows that governments in Canada have repeatedly ignored expert recommendations to stop violence against Indigenous women and girls.
Researchers with the Legal Strategy Coalition on Violence Against Indigenous Women reviewed 58 reports dealing with aspects of violence and discrimination against Indigenous women and girls, including government studies, reports by international human rights bodies, and published research of Indigenous women's organizations. The reports cover a period of two decades. Shockingly, researchers found that only a few of more than 700 recommendations in these reports have ever been fully implemented.
"How many Indigenous women and girls would have been found or would still be alive if governments had acted on more of these recommendations?" asked Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs. "This is yet another piece of irrefutable evidence that governments in Canada have breached their fundamental moral and legal responsibility to ensure the safety of all women, without discrimination."

Ending discrimination against First Nations children in Canada

In February 2007, a human rights complaint was filed by the First Nations Child and Family Caring Society (the "Caring Society") and the Assembly of First Nations ("AFN") against the Government of Canada, alleging that the government discriminated against First Nations children by providing inequitable child welfare services to children living on-reserve as compared to children living off-reserve (First Nations Child).
In particular, the First Nations Child complaint alleges that the federal government's program underfunds children living on-reserve, such that children do not receive needed care and support that would permit them to continue to live at home and, as a result, First Nations children are disproportionately removed from their families in comparison to non‑First Nations children. The impact of the child welfare system on First Nations communities has been compared to the legacy created by the residential school system.

Combatting ISIS: The case for universal service

Why do young Canadians join ISIS, and what can be done to prevent this? 
Bill C-51 -- the Harper government's anti-terrorism act -- offers one approach: make it a crime to promote or advocate "terrorism." But a slippery slope leads from criminalizing extremist ideas to criminalizing dissent. Four former Canadian prime ministers, in a statement critical of Bill C-51, point out that "serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security."  

Harper's new legislation could backfire. Characterizing various ideas (including religious extremism) as terrorism might enhance, rather than reduce, the supply of ISIS recruits.

Vince Li and the politics of fear

Manitoba's senior member of Parliament, Shelly Glover, uttered four sentences on the Vince Li case Tuesday. The thoughts in each sentence were emotional, irrelevant and factually incorrect. Ms. Glover's comments merely inflamed the stigma and misunderstanding associated with mental illness and schizophrenia in particular.

Mr. Li is not a convicted criminal, and there is no legal basis for treating him as such, much less ensuring "that penalties match the severity of the crime."

Her words also reflect, however, the sincere views of many Canadians who can't accept that Mr. Li could eventually be free to walk the streets of Winnipeg, less than seven years after he beheaded a man on a Greyhound bus while in the grip of a severe schizophrenic episode, a previously undiagnosed condition.

The Brief Life and Private Death of Alexandria Hill

THE SUN WAS BEATING down on Rockdale, Texas, when Donna Winkler arrived at her sister's ranch-style, clapboard house on the afternoon of July 29, 2013. Winkler was concerned about Sherill. At the age of 54, she had lost her job as a school bus driver after falling and injuring her wrist. Her husband, Clemon Small, a former crack addict, only worked a few days a week as a karaoke DJ. Recently, the Smalls had moved from nearby Austin to Rockdale, population 5,400, to cut costs.

Winkler knew her sister helped support herself by fostering children for Texas Mentor, a private agency that finds homes for children who have been removed from their parents' custody. She had taken in an infant and a two-year-old girl named Alexandria Hill. Texas Mentor paid the Smalls $44.30 a day to care for both kids. The company earned $34.74 daily on top of that to monitor the Smalls. Winkler thought Sherill was in it for the money.

Who's Behind the Secretive Group Bashing Elizabeth Warren's Favorite Agency?

Based off its name alone, the US Consumer Coalition—which bills itself as a "grassroots organization" that exists to "build bridges, ensure public awareness and mobilize the powerful voices of consumers and business owners to protect our freedom of choice"—sounds like the sort of outfit you'd expect to find sticking up for the little guy.

Yet last month, Brian Wise, one of the group's founders, penned an op-ed in the Hill attacking the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the consumer protection agency that came into existence in 2011 thanks to Elizabeth Warren. The CFPB crafts financial rules to protect ordinary consumers—making mortgage applications simple, preventing banks from hiding fees and charges, and cracking down on payday lenders. But since the US Consumer Coalition launched early last year, it has been on a mission to bring down the bureau—which it has called "America's most dangerous federal agency"—and other financial regulators.

Bill C-51 threatens to sacrifice liberty for security

Four former Canadian prime ministers (including a Conservative) and five former Supreme Court justices have warned Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that protecting the security of Canadians and their most important freedoms is not a zero sum game.

In their own words criticizing his anti-terrorism legislation, Bill C-51, they warn: “Protecting human rights and protecting public safety are complementary objectives, but experience has shown that serious human rights abuses can occur in the name of maintaining national security.”

Canada’s tantrum in the Middle East

Many Canadians would be surprised to learn the extent to which Canada has become an enemy of moderation in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, so let’s not allow the latest petty incident to go unremarked: apparent payback to a Palestinian NGO because its founder criticized John Baird.

For more than twenty years, Hanan Ashrawi, an ethnic Christian and a moderate, has been a prominent Palestinian leader. In 2006 she was elected to the Palestinian parliament as a member of the Third Way, an almost laughably small party which has tried to provide a democratic, centrist alternative to the corruption of Fateh and the violent Islamism of Hamas — the two dominant Palestinian political factions.

In the Conservative war on terror, the first casualty is Parliament

Fresh from limiting the parliamentary debate on its proposed anti-terror law, the government is now resisting opposition calls for an extensive review of Bill C-51 by the Commons committee on public safety and national security.

"This bill is strongly supported by Canadians," Stephen Harper argued this week during Question Period, "and I encourage the committee to study it as quickly as possible in order to adopt these measures to help Canadian security during the life of this Parliament."