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.]

Monday, May 18, 2015

Bill C-42, Conservatives' New Gun Bill, On Track To Become Law

OTTAWA - New Conservative legislation that changes the gun licensing system cleared a House of Commons committee last week and is on track to become law before the summer recess — and a likely fall election.

Bill C-42, dubbed the Common Sense Firearms Licensing Act, has drawn sharp criticism even within the sport-shooting community but nonetheless remains grist for Conservative get-out-the-vote efforts, especially in rural Canada.

PMO thickens fog of secrecy surrounding residency requirement for senators

OTTAWA - The shroud of secrecy surrounding the residency requirement for Canadian senators just got a bit thicker.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has refused to answer repeated oral questions about the process he follows to ensure that an individual meets the constitutional residency requirement for appointment to the Senate.

So NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus figured his best chance at getting an answer lay in placing a written question on the order paper of the House of Commons — a procedural manoeuvre to which the government is obligated to give a detailed response.

No go.

Poverty, Jail, Media Harassment: The Worst Year of This Mother's Life

2014 was the most traumatic year of my life. I was tested mentally, physically and emotionally. The year began as the previous year had ended. My unemployment benefits had run out. My endless job search was yielding nothing promising. But I kept persevering. I was the mother of three beautiful children who needed me.

They did not know our struggle, even though they lived in the midst of it. We lived from place to place, taking advantage of the generosity of friends and family. I made sure my children slept under a roof every night. I did not always have that same fortune. But that was okay. My primary task was to take care of them. It was a cycle of poverty I was determined to break.

Study Busts Narrative Of First Nations As Simple Hunter-Gatherers

VANCOUVER - The discovery of an expansive system of historic clam gardens along the Pacific Northwest coast is contributing to a growing body of work that's busting long-held beliefs about First Nations as heedless hunter-gatherers.

A team of researchers at Simon Fraser University has revealed that First Nations from Alaska to Washington state were marine farmers using sophisticated cultivation techniques to intensify clam production.

Study: Top Tech Firms Bypassing Asian Workers For Exec Jobs

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google, Yahoo and other major technology companies are far more inclined to hire Asians as computer programmers than to promote them to become managers or executives, according to a study released Wednesday.

The analysis uncovered a glaring imbalance between the number of Asian technology workers in non-management jobs and the number in leadership positions in Silicon Valley.

Ascend, a group focused on Asian business issues, based its conclusions on 2013 data filed with U.S. employment regulators by five Silicon Valley companies — Google Inc., Yahoo Inc. Intel Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and LinkedIn Corp.

Obama: Elizabeth Warren 'Absolutely Wrong' On Trade Pact Threat To Dodd-Frank

WASHINGTON, May 9 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama dismissed a liberal senator's warning that "fast-track" trade authorization being considered by Congress could weaken U.S. financial regulations he helped put in place after the 2007-2008 crisis that triggered the Great Recession.

Senator Elizabeth Warren, long a champion of stricter rules for Wall Street, said in a Tuesday speech that fast-track authority to push through a sweeping Pacific trade pact could be used to roll back the Dodd-Frank financial reform law.

The Risks of Siding With French Secularism

In the past few weeks, the American literary elite have divided into two camps over the PEN America Center’s decision to give its Freedom of Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly whose staff was massacred by Muslim extremists in January. The battle features plenty of clashing literary egos, but at its heart is the question of free speech versus hate speech. Cartoonist Garry Trudeau, of "Doonesbury" fame, set the tone for the debate last month inThe Atlantic: “Ridiculing the non-privileged is almost never funny—it's just mean. By punching downward, by attacking a powerless, disenfranchised minority with crude, vulgar drawings closer to graffiti than cartoons,Charlie wandered into the realm of hate speech, which in France is only illegal if it directly incites violence." 

Homophobia in sports still pervasive in Canada, new study shows

New data shows that homophobia is still alive and well in Canadian sports and the study, which is the first of its kind, suggests anti-gay attitudes are deterring young people from being active in some athletic fields.

The survey, called Out on the Fields, was conducted online in six English-speaking countries — U.S., U.K., Ireland, Canada, New Zealand and Australia — and promoted through a coalition of sporting organizations. Of the 9,500 participants, 75 per cent were LGBT.

“Effectively they are censoring that part of the past:” Michel Drapeau

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government is setting a dangerous precedent by retroactively exempting all long gun registry data from Canada’s access to information and privacy acts, say some of the country’s foremost experts on access to information.

Michel Drapeau, who quite literally wrote the book on Canada’s access law, said the provision buried in the government’s budget implementation bill is “undemocratic,” “high handed” and marks the first time to his knowledge that a Canadian government has tried to make an exemption to the access laws retroactive.

America’s Richest Congressman, Worth Almost $500 Million, Says Poor Americans Are Doing Great

Congressman Darrell Issa, America’s richest Congressman with a net worth of nearly $500 million, says the nation’s poor are actually doing very well. Issa told CNN that “our poor are… the envy of the world.”

Issa said that, compared to India, America’s poor were living with greater incomes, more opportunity to climb the economic ladder and better access to quality education. CNN reporter Cristina Alesci rejected the comparison. “We don’t want to compare ourselves to India, we want to set the bar pretty high,” she said.

Why I Am Marching for My Son on Mother’s Day

It’s hard for me to celebrate on Mother’s Day. I feel the absence of my son Sean Elijah Bell, who was killed on November 25, 2006—his wedding day—in a hail of 50 bullets fired by New York City police officers. He was only 23.

My son and two of his friends were leaving Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, where he had been celebrating his bachelor party. Three undercover detectives were in the club. The NYPD had formed a new Club Enforcement Initiative, transferring detectives from vice and narcotics to crack down on nightspots; the officers said they were at Club Kalua because the club was under surveillance for drugs and prostitution. One of the officers, Detective Gescard Isnora, later testified that he saw someone arguing with my son and his friends and that he thought there was a gun involved. While in communication with his commanding officer, Lieutenant Gary Napoli, Isnora followed my son and his friends as they walked to my son’s car. The lieutenant gave the order for backup to move in. Two unmarked vehicles with cops inside pulled up and boxed my son’s car in. Detective Isnora had his weapon drawn. Sean’s friends later testified that they had no idea they were facing cops.

Stephen Harper Prioritizing 'Propaganda' Over Soldiers' Safety, Says NDP MP

The NDP’s national defence critic accused the prime minister of prioritizing propaganda over the safety of Canadian troops after his staff were forced to pull videos promoting his tour of Iraq and Kuwait.

“They actually used them and then claimed that they had been vetted by the military and never did correct the record,” said national defence critic Jack Harris to reporters on Friday.

“I mean that’s misleading. It’s disinformation. It’s just shows that they – they were concerned more about the prime minister’s propaganda value than they were about the safety of Canadian soldiers.”

I Risked Death to Seek a Better Life for My Kids in Canada

My children and I immigrated to Canada in 2010 as refugees. When we arrived, I was so happy that my kids were in a safe country. However, that happiness was quickly sucked out of me when I learned that I would have to attend an immigration hearing and stand in front of a judge who would determine whether I had the right to stay in Canada, or if I would be sent back to my home country of Zimbabwe. The thought brought a new kind of fear that crippled every ounce of hope I had left.

Prentice's loss signals a tough time for Conservatives in Alberta

From the top down, Alberta's provincial election was tough for Conservatives.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Calgary southwest federal riding is now represented provincially by three NDP MLAs, and Alberta Party leader Greg Clark.

Alberta's PC machine, a 44-year political dynasty, was reduced overnight to third party status with ten seats.

How the Kochs made a fortune from Canadian oil

National Observer investigative reporter Bruce Livesey wrote the following about his latest story on the billionaire Koch brothers: 
Until this past February, I worked as a contracted television producer for Global TV and its current affairs program, 16x9. Last fall, I was commissioned to do a story for the program about the Koch brothers, their holdings in Alberta’s oil sands and their interest in getting the Keystone XL pipeline built. In January, two days before the 22-minute documentary was about to air on 16x9, Global's senior management pulled the story.

CWB deal raises doubts

When announcing the saleof the former Canadian Wheat Board to a U.S.-Saudi joint venture, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz couldn't resist getting one parting shot in at supporters of orderly marketing.

No longer would Canadian farmers go to jail for selling their own grain, Ritz said. The only problem is, like many of the other statements Ritz made on Wednesday in Winnipeg, it's not entirely true. In fact, Canadian farmers (a few of them anyway) went to jail for refusing to pay fines for breaking the Canadian Wheat Board Act. So their crime was not only flouting the law of the land, but also the judicial system that enforces the law.

Multi-million dollar tax battle casts shadow over Canada-India uranium deal

Prime Minister Stephen Harper met with Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi on Thursday at the Pinnacle Harbourfront hotel to tout a $350 million deal in which Canada's largest uranium company, Cameco, will supply uranium to India.

The deal was praised by Modi earlier this week, as he addressed reporters in Ottawa.

Why isn’t the free trade era delivering better jobs?

With the 2015 federal election fast approaching, Canadians can expect a lot of loud government messaging about its ‘sound economic management’, including some trumped-up claims about how joining more — and ever more elaborate — trade and investment liberalization agreements will boost Canada’s national prosperity.

And now that the federal NDP seems to be recoiling from criticism of new trade and investment deals, the Harper Conservatives will be free to exaggerate — even fabricate — the benefits of Canada’s quarter century-long experiment with ‘free trade’. The only opposition the government will face on this file are the facts.

Funding slashed for all safety programs at Transport Canada

OTTAWA —The Conservative government is slashing funding for all safety and security programs at Transport Canada, with a significant chunk coming out of safety oversight initiatives, planning documents show.

The amount of funding set to be clawed away varies between programs — the budget for transportation of dangerous goods is going down 32 per cent while the budget for aviation safety is dropping 9.2 per cent, for example — but all are seeing decreases, just as the wreckage of Air Canada Flight 624 was pulled off a runway in Halifax and the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic continues to rebuild.

Terror fight hampering work on other criminal files, senior Mountie says

OTTAWA — Shifting hundreds of RCMP officers to counterterrorism duty has hurt the national police force’s efforts to fight organized crime and espionage, a senior Mountie says.

The resource challenge is “negatively impacting” the force’s ability to do everything it’s expected to do, says Mike Cabana, deputy RCMP commissioner for federal policing.

“As a result, the RCMP recognizes that it needs to find a longer-term solution to be able to respond to the breadth of its federal policing mandate,” Cabana told the Senate national security committee Monday.

Budget balanced on backs of contingency fund, EI and oil

The Conservative government’s long-promised return to surplus relies on a series of accounting moves that includes slashing the contingency reserve, assuming oil prices will climb and collecting billions more in Employment Insurance premiums than necessary.

While economists say it is of little significance whether federal finances are in a small deficit or small surplus, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Finance Minister Joe Oliver have made the return to surplus a central political pledge for the Conservatives. “A promise made, a promise kept,” Mr. Oliver said in his budget speech Tuesday. “This budget is written in black ink.”

Intelligence Gathering, Secrecy and the Congress Problem

In an important decision, a federal court of appeals held yesterday that the NSA's bulk collection of telephone metadata could not be squared with the legislation that was said to authorize it.

Section 215 of the Patriot Act authorizes the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to issue orders requiring such entities as telephone companies, credit card companies, banks, car rental companies, internet service providers, etc. to turn over their records to the government if the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court finds that "there are reasonable grounds to believe" that the records "sought are relevant to an authorized investigation" that is designed to protect the nation "against international terrorism."

No Wealth, No Justice in $1 Billion LNG Offer to First Nation Band

Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian theologian and writer known for his work among the poor and the excluded, is credited with coining a phrase that is as true as any you'll ever hear: ''The opposite of poverty is not wealth -- it is justice.''

It is a phrase that has also been attributed to Bryan Stevenson, founder of America's Equal Justice Initiative and a man Archbishop Desmond Tutu has called, without qualification, ''America's Nelson Mandela.''

Regardless of the provenance of the expression, it is the potency of the underlying idea that should be freighted into the unseemly scramble to unlock northern British Columbia's dangerously exaggerated liquefied natural gas (LNG) bonanza, especially now that some coastal First Nations are bellying up to the pipe to get their overdue share of Canada's resource riches.

Mumia’s Life Matters

I first heard the deep and haunting voice of Mumia Abu-Jamal more than 10 years ago, as he offered cutting analysis of the political issues of the day through his brilliant commentary. The fact that an African-American man convicted of killing a police officer and waiting to be executed was continuing his journalistic work from behind bars, and doing it so powerfully, was profound. I soon learned that he was a political prisoner on death row who had been convicted in a faulty trial of murdering a police officer. I also discovered an entire movement dedicated to freeing him.

Scott Walker Gave Corporations Cash To Create Jobs, Forgot To Check If They Created Jobs

The job creation agency founded by Governor Scott Walker has been routinely violating its own rules and state law, according to a damning report released Friday by Wisconsin’s non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau.
Walker set up the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation in 2011 in order to give taxpayer dollars to private corporations to help them create jobs for Wisconsin workers. But a new audit of more than 100 grants from the agency found that the WEDC failed to follow up on whether the companies were actually using the funds to create and retain jobs.

Munir Sheikh: Bad Info From NHS Will Lead To Bad Planning

Important statistical information has become so unreliable that the government would be better off making policy decisions based on no information at all, says the former head of Statistics Canada.

Munir Sheikh, who quit his job as the chief statistician of StatCan in 2010, said Friday that the current National Household Survey (NHS) will lead to bad planning — on everything from where to put more bus shelters to the types of social programs that best serve Canadians.

Bill C-59: PSAC readies $5M campaign against sick leave reforms

The Public Service Alliance of Canada is considering its next move after the budget implementation bill introduced Thursday signalled the Harper government is prepared to go outside the collective bargaining process now underway to achieve its budgetary goals.

Proposed changes to federal civil servants' sick leave provisions are one of the most contentious issues in ongoing talks with public service unions, including PSAC.

Those talks are working towards a fall deadline. But C-59 would give the government the ability to act before the conclusion of that process, something unions say contravenes the Public Service Labour Relations Act.

A bad news week for the Prime Minister

At the end of a trying week Prime Minister Stephen Harper seemed relieved at the chance to wax effusive in congratulating British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron on his "strong re-election…with a majority government."
Earlier in the week, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) could barely muster a terse "sincerest congratulations" to Alberta’s Rachel Notley, together with a promise to work together on "economic growth and long-term prosperity" –- a favourite Conservative catchphrase.

The legal vengeance case of Omar Khadr

A few years ago when some Canadian Muslim men, accused of terrorism, challenged the Canadian government through the courts to ask for their legal rights, voices within the intelligence community rose up and insinuated that these men were waging "judicial jihad."
When the federal government appealed the Alberta Court of Queen's Bench decision to grant the release of Omar Khadr, another Canadian Muslim man who spent over ten years in Guantanamo prison for being a child soldier, none of these same voices would rise up and accuse the government of "judicial vengeance" -- despite the fact that the Canadian government has been using taxpayers' money to wage one legal battle after another to defend the indefensible: the torture and the indefinite detention of a Canadian citizen.

Harper Brushes Off Khadr Remarks, MacKay Acknowledges Them

OTTAWA - The Harper government appeared largely unmoved Friday by Omar Khadr's apologetic remarks and vow to become a peaceful law-abiding citizen — cementing the longstanding divide between the two camps.

Justice Minister Peter MacKay showed signs of giving Khadr a benefit of the doubt, which set him apart from Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other Conservatives — all of whom held firm to their long-held view that Khadr remains a convicted war criminal.

Alberta just put the fear into Stephen Harper

The Koch Brothers may need therapy. Tory blue Alberta has just dismissed a smug, incompetent, corporation-serving oligarchy from power and sent it to wander the wilderness. More than that — voters handed the reins of power to democratic socialists in a jurisdiction ruled and ransacked for decades by the surrogates of Big Oil.

Suddenly, anything is possible in Canadian politics. If Alberta can turn to the NDP, why not Canada? How long can it be before the Tea Party that Stephen Harper has made of federal politics for the past decade comes to an end — and the CPC shares the fate of Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives?

Better times still ahead even after Canada drops nearly 20,000 jobs: economists

OTTAWA - The Canadian job market mustered a disappointing headline number last month, but experts say the broader batches of economic data are still pointing to the economy's bounce back in the coming months.

The labour market itself, however, has swung back and forth in recent months to produce only a modest result over the longer term.

That month-to-month volatility continued Friday when Statistics Canada released its latest job numbers, which showed the economy lost 19,700 net positions in April. Last month's decline followed an unexpected increase of 28,700 jobs in March.

Mike Duffy trial shifts onto damaging political ground

OTTAWA—The Mike Duffy criminal trial shifted onto damaging political ground Thursday that now has the judge reviewing Duffy’s political value — and toxicity — to the Conservative Party of Canada and Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

First came damaging testimony over two days from three Conservative MPs who admitted Duffy was a popular draw recruited to their ridings for political purposes to rally partisan troops and raise money — and revelations that government ministers are used the same way.

Ottawa Delays Data on Foreign Workers

Canadians will have to wait until the end of June or longer to find out the full effects of the Tories' changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program, despite the government's promise to release information about it every three months.

The Harper government has said it would post data on the number of foreigner workers approved through the program on a quarterly basis, but still hasn't released information from the last quarter of 2014.

Sorry Liberals, 'Oversight' Won't Fix Menace of a Terror Bill

The House of Commons sent Bill C-51, the Anti-terrorism Act, to the Senate on Wednesday, where it is expected to quickly pass and become law. One-hundred-and-eighty-three Conservatives and Liberals voted in favour, while 96 NDP, Greens and BQ members opposed.

Lurching to its inevitable outcome, the debate over C-51 began to resemble a bad play in which the actors find themselves trapped, fated to continually repeat the same lines. Conservative speakers were like the Walking Dead: insensible but still menacing. NDP and Green contributions were earnest but increasingly bewildered: did Conservative talking points on the bill ever intersect with reality?


Fort McKay, Alberta, a hamlet of 700 citizens, hugs the Athabasca River a half-hour's drive north of Fort McMurray. It's home to the Fort McKay First Nation band.

A cluster of small, neat houses, the community is famous for being located at ground zero of the oil sands, whose manifestations are visible from the river's bank. A Syncrude refinery a few kilometres down the road belches out smoke all day. Tailings ponds of polluted water surround the community.

"Every which way there is an open-pit mine or proposed mine," says Dan Stuckless, the band's environment and regulatory manager. "We are at a point where we are 70 per cent leased on the territory here."

38 Million Homeless In 'Worst' Forced Displacement In A Generation, Report Finds

At least 38 million people worldwide have been forced from their homes by violence or armed conflict, a new report on internally displaced persons has found. Of that number, 11 million were displaced in 2014 alone, spurred by ongoing violence in Syria, South Sudan and Iraq.
“These are the worst figures for forced displacement in a generation, signaling our complete failure to protect innocent civilians,” Jan Egeland, secretary general at the Norwegian Refugee Council, which publishes the yearly report, said in a statement.

Israel's Ultra-Orthodox Parties Poised For Political Comeback

JERUSALEM (AP) — The formation of Benjamin Netanyahu's new coalition government has cleared the way for Israel's ultra-Orthodox parties to return to power after two years in the opposition.

This religious resurgence could have deep implications as the ultra-Orthodox seek to reinstate a system of subsidies and preferential treatment that have long angered Israel's secular majority, potentially setting the stage for a new round of the culture wars that have repeatedly plagued the country.

How the World’s Largest Psychological Association Aided the CIA’s Torture Program

The public exposure in mid-2004 of a government-sanctioned and highly bureaucratized program of torture and cruel treatment caused a political crisis that threatened to derail the Bush administration’s interrogation and detention policies. In the wake of that crisis, some American Psychological Association (APA) senior staff members and leaders colluded, secretly, with officials from the White House, Defense Department and CIA to enable psychologists’ continuing participation in interrogations at CIA black sites, Guantánamo, and other overseas facilities. One result of this collusion was a revision in 2005 of the APA’s code of ethics for interrogations in order to provide cover for psychologists working in these facilities.

Tories Kill Bill Urging 'Harmony' Between Canadian Law And First Nations

A NDP-sponsored bill proposing Canada align its laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was defeated Wednesday.

The Conservative government used its majority to reject Romeo Saganash’s private member’s bill, five months after it was first introduced to the House of Commons.

Fair Elections Act Changes Open Byelection Spending Tap

OTTAWA - Federal parties and their candidates will be eligible to spend millions of taxpayer-subsidized dollars to contest three federal byelections, thanks to rule changes enacted last year in the government's controversial Fair Elections Act.

And the governing Conservatives appear best positioned to reap the benefits of the unforeseen spending-room bonanza, which comes courtesy of a little-debated provision in the election bill.

This Is What Happens When You Elect Climate Change Deniers

WASHINGTON -- Scientists are balking at major cuts to NASA's budget that the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology approved last week, cuts that critics say will imperil climate change research in the U.S.
The committee-approved 2016 and 2017 NASA budgets would cut the agency's earth science funding by at least $323 million. Climate is a major part of the agency's earth science work, and NASA plays an important role among government agencies in helping to develop our scientific understanding of how the planet works.

That's What You Get for Filming the Police

One evening in September 2014, John Prince heard a scream through his window.

He went outside. On the sidewalk in front of his home, a first-floor apartment on Elmwood Avenue in Providence, Rhode Island, two male plainclothes police officers were aggressively questioning a pair of young women.

"The cops were being really rude," Prince said, "asking intimidating questions like, 'What's in your handbag?' and 'Where are you coming from?'"

Wisconsin Republicans Would Spend Millions To Micromanage Poor People’s Shopping

Wisconsin would have to spend millions of dollars to realize a Republican scheme to restrict how poor people shop for food, state fiscal analysts revealed Wednesday.
The measure would prohibit stores from accepting food stamps to pay for any form of shellfish and put a new limit on how much a food stamps recipient could spend on a long list of other foods including dry beans, spaghetti sauce, and cooking spices. It provoked outrage from Democrats in the legislature, who used a recent committee hearing on the bill to point out bizarre foibles in the list of foods that Rep. Robert Brooks (R) proposes to constrain.

Harper Takeover Rules Boon for Canadian Resource Firms

Energy and mining industries, hammered by a commodity slump, are poised to be the biggest beneficiaries of looser Canadian foreign-takeover rules.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government boosted the threshold at which foreign acquisitions are reviewed, setting it at an enterprise value of more than C$600 million ($498 million). That may free up 121 publicly traded businesses, with a total market value of about C$32 billion, from automatic reviews, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Anti-terror Bill, C-51, passes the House amid angry and personal exchanges

Sometimes debate in the House of Commons becomes personal.
On Wednesday night, the House of Commons passed the government's anti-terrorism law, Bill C-51, with a few small amendments.
Both the ruling Conservatives and the Liberals voted in favour, although the latter have vigorously opposed a great many of the Bill's key provisions.

Privatizing Hydro One is going to hurt, say critics

The Ontario 2015 budget had more than a plan to put beer and wine in grocery stores. The Ontario Liberals are trying to sell off 60 per cent of the publicly owned electricity transmission and distribution company Hydro One.
Critics of the plan say that privatizing the massive network of transmission lines and stations means trouble for workers, the environment, and an already cash-starved province.  

Oh, Canada: Harper's systematic attack on democracy and media -- Exposing the Conservative's stranglehold on information

Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know

by Mark Bourrie
(HarperCollins Canada, 

If the state of Canada's democracy doesn't already reduce you to tears, it will once you get your hands on Mark Bourrie's latest book, Kill the Messengers: Stephen Harper's Assault on Your Right to Know. This book would be worth the time under any circumstances; in an election year, it's absolutely essential reading.

Bourrie, a journalist and historian specializing in military, media, and propaganda, is as thorough as he is focused in his meticulous analysis of the Conservative Party's tightening hold on information and its impact on our institutions.

NSA Bulk Data Collection Illegal, U.S. Appeals Court Says

NEW YORK, May 7 (Reuters) - A U.S. spying program that systematically collects millions of Americans' phone records is illegal, a federal appeals court ruled on Thursday, putting pressure on Congress to quickly decide whether to replace or end the controversial anti-terrorism surveillance.

Ruling on a program revealed by former government security contractor Edward Snowden, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan said the Patriot Act did not authorize the National Security Agency to collect Americans' calling records in bulk.