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.]

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Erin O'Toole Defensive Over $1.13B In Unspent Veterans Affairs Cash

OTTAWA - Veterans Affairs Minister Eric O'Toole has a simple explanation for a controversial $1.13 billion spending lapse and the subsequent return of the cash to the federal treasury: it's hard to predict spending when so many elderly vets are dying.

But an opposition critic says there is much more certainty in the numbers than O'Toole is admitting, pointing to the department's statistical research branch and the detailed, quarterly forecasts it produces.

CRTC Says Federal Election Debates Must Be 'Equitable'

OTTAWA - The country's broadcast regulator says it's not going to stand in the way of changes to the way federal election debates are conducted, so long as all the major parties get equitable news coverage.

This comes after the Conservative party opened the door this week to competing offers from individual networks to host the debates.

The move effectively ends the monopoly over the political contests previously enjoyed by a broadcast consortium made up of CTV, the CBC and Global TV.

Decade-Old Gulf Oil Spill Could Last 100 Years

WASHINGTON (AP) — A decade-old oil leak where an offshore platform toppled during a hurricane could continue spilling crude into the Gulf of Mexico for a century or more if left unchecked, according to government estimates obtained by The Associated Press that provide new details about the scope of the problem.

Taylor Energy Company, which owned the platform and a cluster of oil wells, has played down the extent and environmental impact of the leak. The company also maintains that nothing can be done to completely eliminate the chronic oil slicks that often stretch for miles off the coast of Louisiana.

Maryland Governor Withholds Money From Schools To Fund State Pensions

Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) announced Thursday that he will not be releasing $68 million allocated by the state legislature for education, of which $11.6 million would have gone to Baltimore’s public schools.

Instead, he'll be using the money to boost the state's pension fund, he said.

Hogan’s decision comes amid increased national attention on the resources, or lack of resources, available to Baltimore’s poor residents after the civil unrest there in late April.

Baltimore Prosecutors In Freddie Gray Case Seek Gag Order

BALTIMORE (AP) — Baltimore prosecutors are seeking a gag order as they pursue a criminal case against six city officers in the case of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old man who died a week after suffering a spinal injury while in police custody.

A court document that references the gag order, obtained by The Associated Press, is dated Wednesday. Assistant State's Attorney Antonio Gioia wrote that the gag order motion was mailed to defense attorneys.

Filmmaker Spike Lee Defends His Planned Film On Chicago Violence

CHICAGO, May 14 (Reuters) - Movie director Spike Lee, known for films that deal frankly with racial issues, appeared in Chicago on Thursday to defend his planned movie about the city, after its reported title, "Chiraq," was criticized by local politicians.

Speaking at a South Side church and surrounded by African-American mothers carrying pictures of children killed in street violence, Lee said artists hold up a mirror to society and are not afraid to tell the truth.

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Sentenced To Death

BOSTON -- Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been sentenced to death for committing the Boston Marathon bombing, one of the worst acts of terrorism to take place on U.S. soil.

The same seven-woman, five-man jury that found the 21-year-old naturalized American citizen guilty in the April 15, 2013, attack reached the verdict after deliberating for more than 14 hours over three days. The only alternative sentence was life without parole.

The jury sentenced Tsarnaev to death on 6 of the 17 counts, including use of a weapon of mass destruction, bombing of a public place and malicious destruction of property. A death sentence required a unanimous vote from the jury members, but if they had failed to agree on it, the life sentence would have been imposed automatically.

It Only Took Four Months For China To Achieve A Jaw-Dropping Reduction In Carbon Emissions

China is the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitter, so small decreases in its emissions seem like monumental feats when compared to other countries. According to a new analysis, in the first four months of 2015, China’s coal use fell almost 8 percent compared to the same period last year — a reduction in emissions that’s approximately equal to the total carbon dioxide emissions of the U.K. over the same period.
The analysis, published by Greenpeace and Energydesk China, reviewed data from a number of sources, including China’s industrial output, and found that China had reduced its coal output by 6.1 percent in the first four months of 2015. The research team calculated that the drop in coal use translates into a nearly 5 percent drop in domestic CO2 emissions.

Wielding New Evidence, Watchdogs Push IRS to Investigate ALEC for Tax Fraud

AT&T told an investor that its main focus within the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) has been on "state legislation aimed at achieving a favorable business climate."

A spokesman for BP said the company participates in ALEC "to help educate policy makers about energy and natural resource issues that affect our business."

Pfizer said it continues its membership in ALEC because the company and its stakeholders "have benefited directly from the organization's model legislation," including efforts to protect drug patents and repeal a controversial physician advisory board set up by the Affordable Care Act.

Harper Touts Economic Record In Campaign-Style Speech

TRURO, N.S. - With the federal election still months away, Prime Minister Stephen Harper used a rousing campaign-style speech to tout his government's economic record Thursday in a Nova Scotia riding known as a traditional Conservative stronghold.

With a large Canadian flag as a backdrop, Harper told a packed high school gym in Truro, N.S., that the Conservatives are confident heading into this fall's election.

He said his government remains focused on issues that are important to Canadians. He then listed a series of familiar themes.

Poilievre Not Sorry For Taxpayers' Dollars Spent On 'Vanity Videos'

OTTAWA - Employment Minister Pierre Poilievre won't apologize for using taxpayer dollars to produce YouTube videos of himself promoting the universal child care benefit.

Poilievre insisted Friday that he's simply using innovative ways to inform Canadians about the newly enriched and expanded child benefit.

But opposition MPs denounced the "vanity videos" as a new low for a government that has a penchant for producing partisan advertising on the public dime.

93 Per Cent of Canadians Get Nothing from Doubling TFSA Limits

At a time when the Canadian economy is sputtering -- with virtually no growth, weak job creation, poor job quality, large trade deficits, record household debt, and low confidence levels -- governments need to be careful in their policy choices.

What will best drive jobs and growth, and provide the most help to the largest number of those who really need help the most? Growth and fairness must be prime objectives.

B.C. Youth Representative Criticizes Province For Aboriginal Teen's Death

VANCOUVER - She was found unconscious on sidewalks and transit buses. Once, paramedics pulled her from a basement with a 14-year-old friend who was naked and covered in blood. A police officer warned she may be hurt or killed while drunk.

These are just a few of the horrific incidents documented by a report examining the life and death of Paige, a 19-year-old legally blind aboriginal girl who overdosed in Vancouver's Downtown Eastside.

Bill C-51 doesn't introduce disruption -- it legalizes 'dirty tricks'

The so-called new "anti-terror" law, Bill C-51, is before us. We are being unceremoniously stripped of some of the few remaining Charter rights that this Harper government hasn't already circumscribed.
I've spent over two years studying the 21st century version of the insidious practice of "disruption" prior to the introduction of Bill C-51.
Disruption is, at its core, simply a second method to apply virtually the same constraints available through the "security certificate" program against Canadian citizens -- "targets" in the lexicon -- who are not caught by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA). 

Conservatives have 'zero tolerance' for protest of Israeli apartheid? Protest must be powerful!

The CBC's recent revelation that Conservative Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has called for "zero tolerance" of criticism of Israel and that Canadian hate laws could be applied to those campaigning for BDS -- Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions -- against Israel is repugnant enough. But the truly disturbing irony in this outrageous declaration is that the more extreme the Israeli government becomes, the more illegal settlements it builds, the more explicit its open contempt for world opinion and the more outrageous Netanyahu's statements, the stronger is the support from the Harper government. It raises the question: is there any action, including the actual expulsion of Palestinians from Israel and the Occupied Territories that Harper would not support?

Harper is now a PM fleeing his own past

My congratulations to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservative party; they’ve found an even better form of voter suppression than robocalls. They have refused to participate in the TV debates put on for every general election by Canada’s network television consortium since 1968 — back when voter turnout was north of 75 per cent.

For the life of me, I don’t know why the PM blessed Maclean’s with the task of conducting the debate, when party spokesperson Kory Teneycke and the elite journalists of 24/7 were standing at the ready, fully funded by the taxpayers, to get the job done.

Korean Steel Giant Pitching BC Mine Caught in Criminal Probe

A South Korean company at the centre of a controversy over a proposed coal mine in British Columbia is embroiled in a slush fund scandal in its home country, which the provincial government only learned of recently.

Harjap Grewal of the Council of Canadians, a national social justice organization, said the case shows a lack of oversight on the part of Canadian provincial and federal governments when it comes to foreign companies doing business.

What to Do about Rogue State Israel? Boycott It

The CBC's recent revelation that Conservative Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney has called for "zero tolerance" of criticism of Israel and that Canadian hate laws could be applied to those campaigning for BDS -- Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions -- against Israel is repugnant enough.

But the truly disturbing irony in this outrageous declaration is that the more fascistic and racist the Israeli government becomes, the more illegal settlements it builds, the more explicit its open contempt for world opinion and the more outrageous Netanyahu's statements, the stronger is the support from the Harper government.

A Government Neither by nor for the People

The political horse-trading in Israel seen over the past eight weeks, which went down to the wire to form a new government, was, in the main, a struggle over who would get what position, regardless of their qualifications and irrespective of what is best for the country.

Given that the new government is composed entirely of right-wing and religious political parties, it will be impossible to resume the peace negotiations in earnest, which of necessity requires significant concessions to which Prime Minister Netanyahu and his coalition partners, especially the Jewish Home Party led by Naftali Bennett, sternly object.

Canada Just Threw A Grenade Into Elizabeth Warren's Trade Fight With Obama

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) have been locked in a public feud over whether free trade agreements can be used to undermine the 2010 Wall Street reform law. On Wednesday, the Canadian government sided with Warren.

Canadian Finance Minister Joe Oliver gave a speech in New York arguing that the Volcker Rule -- a key tenet of the 2010 banking law -- violates the North American Free Trade Agreement. The move underscores Warren's warning that such deals, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership that Obama is currently negotiating, jeopardize financial reform.

Top Court Rejects Argument Omar Khadr Was Adult Offender

OTTAWA - The Supreme Court of Canada wasted no time Thursday as it summarily rejected the federal government's bid to have former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr declared an adult offender.

The case — the third time the Khadr file has come before the high court — centred on whether the eight-year war-crimes sentence he got from a U.S. military commission in 2010 ought to be interpreted as a youth or adult sentence.

Unifor Running Anti-Stephen Harper Radio Ads In Swing Ridings

OTTAWA — Canada’s largest private sector union is ramping up its anti-Conservative campaign, telling voters in swing ridings why they shouldn’t vote for Stephen Harper.

Unifor is running radio ads in five strategically chosen locations: Vancouver, Winnipeg, Regina, the Greater Toronto Area and Moncton, N.B.

Death of B.C. aboriginal teen Paige blamed on 'brutal and cruel' support services

The B.C. government's "brutal and cruel approach" toward a legally blind aboriginal teenage girl led to her tragic overdose death, according to a damning report from the province's representative for children and youth.

Speaking on Thursday morning from the Ray-Cam Co-operative Centre in East Vancouver, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond said Paige, whose full name was not released, spent her entire life in harm's way because front-line workers didn't protect her.

"Paige's story is one of the most troubling investigations my office has ever conducted," said Turpel-Lafond.

The Dispossessed -- Sixty-seven years ago, Israel created a Jewish state, and my grandmother was made homeless.

Every year, on May 15, I ask my grandmother to tell me the story of how she was made homeless. It happened 67 years ago. She was 14, the youngest of 11 siblings from a middle-class Christian family. They had moved to Haifa from Nazareth when my grandmother was a little girl and lived on Garden Street in the German Colony, which used to be a colony for German Templars, later becoming a cosmopolitan center of Arab culture during the British Mandate. When I ask her to recall what life in Haifa was like back then, her eyes fix on the middle distance.

Canada's complicity in the Saudi-Yemen war

The richest country in the Arab region wasted no time quoting their American arms dealers when they declared an end to their bombing campaign on the poorest Arab country last month.
'Mission Accomplished,' declared a Saudi newspaper on April 22 after Riyadh announced the end of a month-long air campaign on Yemen. Hours later, the strikes resumed. It's hard to assess which was more ironic: Quoting a banner on a U.S. warship where then-president George W. Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003 -- or the fact that Riyadh continued to drop cluster bombs - while simultaneously declaring a reconstruction effort named 'Operation Renewal of Hope'?

Close the gap between Canada and its aboriginal people: AFN chief

The leader of the country’s largest aboriginal group is calling on Ottawa to close the gap between Canada and its aboriginal people as the UN prepares to adopt a new set of sustainable development goals.

Perry Bellegarde said in an interview Wednesday that the federal government should invest more in education, training and housing to bring conditions for aboriginal Canadians in line with the rest of the country. The National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations said he plans to bring that message Thursday to a gathering of international development experts and non-governmental organizations in Gatineau, Que.

Harper Government Tries To Kill All Traces Of Long-Gun Registry

The Harper government wants to blow the head off the long-gun registry, which was "destroyed" long ago but keeps stumbling back like a zombie.

The next return of the dead registry comes Thursday morning, when Canada's information commissioner tables an unusual report in Parliament about the mishandling of an access to information request for long-gun registry records. Suzanne Legault has declined to reveal the contents in advance.

Suzanne Legault, Information Watchdog, Wants Mounties Charged

OTTAWA - An unprecedented Conservative bid to rewrite the law in order to retroactively erase the RCMP's mishandling of gun registry records sets the table for legislated, after-the-fact cover-ups of far more serious crimes, Canada's information commissioner declared Thursday.

In a damning new report tabled in Parliament, Suzanne Legault concluded that the practice establishes a "perilous precedent" of rewriting laws — one that could jeopardize the ability of authorities to prosecute electoral fraud or other government scandals.

5 Big Banks Expected to Plead Guilty to Felony Charges, but Punishments May Be Tempered

For most people, pleading guilty to a felony means they will very likely land in prison, lose their job and forfeit their right to vote.

But when five of the world’s biggest banks plead guilty to an array of antitrust and fraud charges as soon as next week, life will go on, probably without much of a hiccup.

The Justice Department is preparing to announce that Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and the Royal Bank of Scotland will collectively pay several billion dollars and plead guilty to criminal antitrust violations for rigging the price of foreign currencies, according to people briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Most if not all of the pleas are expected to come from the banks’ holding companies, the people said — a first for Wall Street giants that until now have had only subsidiaries or their biggest banking units plead guilty.

Report Provides Even More Evidence Of The Misuse Of Solitary Confinement

WASHINGTON -- A report released this week by the Vera Institute of Justice, a nonpartisan nonprofit based in New York, provides yet more evidence of the misuse of solitary confinement. The researchers add to a growing body of evidence that the practice of housing inmates in stark, small cells for, on average, 23 hours a day is not just widespread but being applied to non-violent inmates. They found that inmates can be put in solitary, or segregation, for just about any infraction.

Exclusive Dispatch: Private Water Industry Says Water Bills "Have to Go Up"

Morning sunlight spilled through long, narrow windowpanes inside the ballroom of the Francis Marion hotel, located in the heart of downtown Charleston, South Carolina, where dozens of public officials, company executives, attorneys and consultants had gathered to portend the future of the water industry in the Southeast United States. Beyond the region, their discussion was aimed at reimagining the future of the entire country's water infrastructure needs - including their hopes to move it into private hands.

Mayor John Tory says Gardiner East should be reconfigured

After studying up over the weekend, Mayor John Tory (open John Tory's policard) says he now definitively backs the popular — but more expensive — hybrid option for the Gardiner East.

“I didn’t get elected to make traffic worse, and let’s be clear, removing that piece of the Gardiner will almost certainly make traffic worse,” Tory said after assembling reporters in his city hall office. “There was little doubt in my mind during the campaign, and there’s little doubt today, that tearing down the eastern section of the Gardiner would only make matters worse.”

Senate Trade Compromise May Doom Efforts Against Currency Manipulation, Forced Labor

WASHINGTON -- Senate leaders on Wednesday found a way to revive President Barack Obama's controversial trade agenda, but in the process may have doomed numerous trade reforms -- including provisions to thwart forced labor and currency manipulation -- that may be essential to its survival in the House.

Democrats blocked the trade legislation from advancing on Tuesday, insisting that four separate trade bills that had cleared the Senate Finance Committee be combined into a single package. Obama and Republican leaders want to give the president authority to "fast track" trade agreements without subjecting them to legislative amendments. Democrats, who generally oppose the fast-track bill, wanted to ensure that a host of trade reforms included in a customs and trade enforcement bill would be included in the fast-track bill, preventing House Republicans or Obama from rejecting them without undermining their own objectives.

David Cameron Unleashes Frightening Attack on ‘Tolerance’ Through Proposed Extremism Laws

Less than a week into his second term as prime minister, David Cameron is set to introduce a series of tough new laws redefining what it means to be an extremist in Britain.

“For too long, we have been a passively tolerant society, saying to our citizens: as long as you obey the law, we will leave you alone. It’s often meant we have stood neutral between different values. And that’s helped foster a narrative of extremism and grievance. This Government will conclusively turn the page on this failed approach,” states a briefing released by Cameron’s office.

Military's Response To Sexual Misconduct Report Curtailed By General's Orders

Weeks before the release of a scathing report into military sexual misconduct, Canada's top general issued orders for the military to plan to ignore key recommendations, including the creation of an independent centre to take complaints and provide support and expertise.

CBC News has obtained orders written by Chief of the Defence Staff Gen. Tom Lawson and circulated for "Action" to 21 top generals and military managers on Feb. 25.

Feds Fight To Have Omar Khadr Declared An Adult Offender

TORONTO - The case of former Guantanamo Bay prisoner Omar Khadr returns to Canada's top court for a third time on Thursday, as the federal government fights to have him declared an adult offender for crimes he committed as a 15-year-old.

The dispute centres on whether the eight-year sentence a U.S. military commission handed him for war crimes should be interpreted as a youth or adult sentence.

However, the arcane technical legal battle has taken on loud political overtones.

Alberta Watchdogs To Investigate Shredding Of Documents At Legislature

EDMONTON - Alberta's incoming premier has called an immediate halt to shredding in all government departments amid reports of documents being illegally destroyed.

Cheryl Oates, spokeswoman for Rachel Notley, said Wednesday the premier-designate asked senior civil servants to impose the ban until the NDP assume power in the coming days.

B.C. First Nation Rejects $1-Billion LNG Deal In 3rd And Final Vote

PORT SIMPSON, B.C. - Members of a First Nation in northwestern British Columbia have rejected a $1.15-billion deal that would have paved the way for a liquefied natural gas terminal to be built in their traditional territory.

The Lax Kw'alaams say their stance is about more than just money.

Members voted against the Pacific NorthWest LNG project during three separate community meetings, the last of which was held Tuesday evening in Vancouver.

The Trade Beef Between Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama, Explained

Republicans take infighting for granted. The GOP establishment and Tea Party insurgents have been waging a bloody battle for the heart and soul of the party for years now.

Democrats aren't used to this kind of rancor — particularly between party all stars. So when President Barack Obama slammed Elizabeth Warren over the weekend as "a politician like everybody else" whose "arguments don't stand the test of fact and scrutiny"?

House Republicans Aim to Cut Amtrak Funding the Day After Philadelphia Derailment

A New York–bound Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia last night, leaving at least six passengers dead and more than 200 injured. Department of Transportation and National Transportation Safety Board officials are investigating the reason for the accident, which is sure to be a flashpoint in an ongoing battle to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure.

In the Belly of the Chemical Beast: Hawaiian Activists Confront Syngenta on Its Home Turf

I first met Malia Chun in late 2013, in front of her home on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, where she pointed between the houses across the street to a nearby field where the agrichemical giant Syngenta tests and produces genetically engineered corn treated with a considerable amount of pesticide.

I met up with Chun again a year and a half later, this time in Syngenta's front yard in Basel, Switzerland. After a short ride through winding, medieval streets on the city's famously punctual public transit, we took pictures outside the tall office building that serves as Syngenta's global headquarters, where a security guard told us we had no chance of getting inside without an employee escort. Unimpressed, Chun asked two university students sitting nearby if they were familiar with Syngenta. The students said they knew that Syngenta sold pesticides, and that a few weeks ago, demonstrators had hung a sign from the building in protest of chemicals thought to harm bees.

No Money, No Vote: Ohio Republicans’ Diabolical Plan For A Poll Tax

Twenty-four members of the Ohio House of Representatives — all Republicans — cosponsored a bill introduced last week that wouldrequire many Ohio residents to pay an actual poll tax in order to vote. Poll taxes are forbidden by the Constitution.
Under this legislation, many voters would have to pay a fee in order to obtain an ID card that they need to vote, thus effectively imposing a tax on the right to vote.

Extreme Bill Would Override All Local Employment Laws, Including LGBT Protections

During a meeting of the Michigan House Committee on Commerce and Trade, Republican lawmakers sneakily introduced a substitute bill replacing HB 4052. The new legislation, sponsored by Rep. Earl Poleski (R), overrides all local ordinances governing employers’ relationships with their employees. Because of the way it would impose state control, opponents have dubbed it the “Death Star” bill. Not only does it have implications for any local ordinance that controls minimum wage, benefits, sick leave, union organizing and strikes, wage disputes, apprenticeship programs, and “ban the box” policies (blocking employers from asking about felony convictions), but it would also override the LGBT protections that exist in 38 Michigan municipalities.

Here’s What Would Actually Happen If Rand Paul Eliminated The Department Of Education

“I don’t think you’d notice if the whole department was gone tomorrow,” Rand Paul said of the U.S. Department of Education at a University of Chicago Institute of Politics panel last year. The Kentucky senator has been saying this for years, but he isn’t the only one. Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and former Texas Gov. Rick Perry have also said the department of education is “nonessential” or worth scrapping completely.
But what would happen if indeed, there was no Department of Education?

Why Are We Paying the NFL to Help the Pentagon Recruit Troops?

All-star first baseman Carlos Delgado was not a fan of the numerous military appreciation events taking place at the ballpark a decade ago. These were staged to bolster support for the Iraq war and doubled as recruitment stations, using sports to increase the ranks of the armed forces, which had thinned dramatically after George W. Bush decided to call for a permanent era of armed conflict. As Delgado said, “I won’t stand for this war.… It’s a very terrible thing that happened on September 11. It’s [also] a terrible thing that happened in Afghanistan and Iraq. I just feel so sad for the families that lost relatives and loved ones in the war. But I think it’s the stupidest war ever.”

Everything You Hate About Washington Confirmed by One Simple Job Change

Five months after deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman resigned in October 2014 and left the department's Forrestal Building in Washington, he started a new job 11 miles away as president of a troubled corporation that he had championed while serving in government.

Over five and a half years—during public hearings in Congress and in private discussions with lawmakers and White House officials—Poneman, as the Energy Department's chief operating officer, approved or advocated giving hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and other assistance to the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC), which processes uranium and sells nuclear fuel to private and government utilities, according to interviews with those who attended these sessions. Now, as head of that company, Poneman is making about $1.5 million this year and will pocket up to $2 million next year, according to reports filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission—a big jump from the $178,000 he earned annually as a government official.

The Jeb Bush Adviser Who Should Scare You

Last week, Jeb Bush, the all-but-announced GOP presidential candidate, stirred up a fuss when he privately told a group of Manhattan financiers that his top adviser on US-Israeli policy is George W. Bush. Given that Jeb has tried mightily to distance himself from his brother, whose administration used false assertions to launch the still highly unpopular Iraq War, this touting of W.—even at a behind-closed-doors session of Republican donors—seemed odd. But perhaps more noteworthy is that Jeb Bush has embraced much of his brother's White House foreign policy team. In February, his campaign released a list of 21 foreign policy advisers; 17 of them served in the George W. Bush administration. And one name stood out: Paul Wolfowitz, a top policy architect of the Iraq War—for the prospect of Wolfowitz whispering into Jeb's ear ought to scare the bejeezus out of anyone who yearns for a rational national security policy.

TPP Trade Deal In Limbo As Democrats Hand Obama Stinging Defeat On 'Fast-Track' Powers

WASHINGTON - U.S. President Barack Obama was dealt a stinging setback Tuesday in his attempt to reach a free-trade deal — and his own party delivered the blow.

Democrats voted en masse against granting fast-track negotiating authority, which would have helped clear considerable obstacles to achieving a 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Vatican Officially Recognizes Palestinian State In New Treaty

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican officially recognized the state of Palestine in a new treaty finalized Wednesday, immediately sparking Israeli ire and accusations that the move hurt peace prospects.

The treaty, which concerns the activities of the Catholic Church in Palestinian territory, makes clear that the Holy See has switched its diplomatic recognition from the Palestine Liberation Organization to the state of Palestine.

Harper Government Retroactively Rewrites Gun Registry Law

OTTAWA - The Harper government moved to retroactively rewrite Canada's access to information law in order to prevent possible criminal charges against the RCMP, The Canadian Press has learned.

An unheralded change buried in last week's 167-page omnibus budget bill exempted all records from the defunct long-gun registry, and also any "request, complaint, investigation, application, judicial review, appeal or other proceeding under the Access to Information Act or the Privacy Act," related to those old records.

Conditions in Canadian-owned factories the worst in Honduras

Conditions in Canadian-owned Gildan garment factories are among the worst in Honduras says Reyna Tejada, a former factory worker and representative from CODEMUH, a feminist labour organization. Tejada was in Vancouver to speak at the CUPE-BCconvention, held April 29 to May 2.
Gildan factories produce t-shirts, fleeces and apparel for other companies to put their logos and graphics on. The company currently has contracts for brands such as New Balance and Secret.