Democracy Gone Astray

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Duffy expenses almost $4,500 for two-hour lunch, court hears

Senator Mike Duffy flew executive class to Vancouver for a four-day stay with his son and daughter and their families from Dec. 30, 2011, to Jan. 4, 2012, later claiming $4,464 in Senate travel expenses for the trip because of a two-hour lunch at the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club he had set up to discuss federal budget ideas with two Vancouver business lawyers, a bank executive and an accountant, according to evidence and testimony at Sen. Duffy's fraud and breach of trust trial.

 Other than a Jan. 3 lunch at the private yacht club, which Conservative MP Andrew Saxton (North Vancouver, Alta.) told court Tuesday he had organized at Sen. Duffy’s request, Sen. Duffy spent all of his time on that trip visiting with family, according to Sen. Duffy’s electronic calendar.

Canada’s $6 million man. Run early, retire young, enjoy life like Peter MacKay

I’m trying to think of another job besides Peter MacKay’s in which you can serve for 18 years, then retire and start collecting a pension of almost $120,000 a year, for life.

I’m not getting very far. A few lucky corporate executives may be able to cash out to a similar extent, but most would have spent many more years slugging their way to the top than MacKay did. And most work in the private sector, so their cushy golden years would be funded by shareholders rather than taxpayers.

Why does Harper balk at the TRC? White backlash is one reason.

The outpouring of anguish, remorse and guilt brought on by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) is remarkable.
We see it across the political spectrum -- from Sun News' David Akin, to the National Post's Michael Den Tandt and John Ivison, to former Mulroney apparatchik L. Ian MacDonald, to the more predictable voices on the more progressive side, such as the Toronto Star's Chantal Hébert.

Harper's Running Out of Fear Fuel

Things are not going Stephen Harper's way. People aren't as scared as they used to be -- and fear is the fuel that keeps his government going.

Peter MacKay is just the latest high-profile Conservative to bolt before the election. Mike Duffy is back in the news; senators, PMO staffers and Nigel Wright himself are all on deck to testify. The economy is not getting better. It may be getting worse.

Politics is all about unforeseen events, of course, and while Harper might have anticipated the lingering sickliness of the economy and the growing restlessness of his caucus, he couldn't have predicted how quickly a political asset like terrorism could turn into a liability.

Natural Gas Ministry Responds to Report Critical of LNG Prospects

British Columbia's Ministry of Natural Gas Development has responded to a critical report that challenges its numbers on the potential size, earnings, and environmental impacts of the proposed liquefied natural gas industry in the province.

Last week, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives released a report by energy analyst David Hughes that characterized government numbers on recoverable gas as inflated and unlikely.

Natural Capital: What Canada Stands to Lose

It's an old economic truism that scarcity creates value. In an era when natural capital is disappearing around the globe, it's also increasingly highly valued. Beyond degrading biological, intrinsic and cultural values, Canada's ineffective stewardship of our ecosystems puts at risk billions, potentially trillions of dollars worth of wealth.

As long ago as 1996, Simon Fraser University economist Nancy Olewiler estimated that British Columbia received $2.75 billion a year (adjusted for inflation to 2014) in non-lumber value from its pre-pine-beetled forests, mainly from outdoor recreation, but also from wildlife viewing and recreational fishing and hunting.

Harper shows little enthusiasm for 'reconciliation' report

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is already distancing himself from a special commission that has called for fundamental changes to Canada’s relationship with its indigenous people.

Harper’s position of studied indifference calls into question whether the report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) will have a brutally short shelf-life. That could be the case if the Conservatives are re-elected to govern on Oct. 19.

On the other hand, with both the New Democrats and Liberals saying they support the TRC’s sweeping proposals, the commission’s blueprint could become federal government policy in coming years if Harper is turfed from office.

It wasn’t always this way.

Why Rachel Notley's Alberta NDP is still considering building an oil refinery

Rachel Notley's new Alberta NDP government is kicking a dead horse by even considering a new oil refinery, at least according to downtown Calgary.

Accepted oilpatch wisdom suggests the market, which hasn't put up the cash for a major new gasoline-producing refinery in North America since 1984, has already made the decision for her.

Why, then, is Notley's government still pledging to crack open the file and take another look?

Canadians Have Reason to Be Wary of TPP Trade Deal

Canada's business community has mobilized in recent weeks to call on the government to adopt a more aggressive, engaged approach with respect to the biggest trade negotiations on the planet -- the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. The TPP involves 12 countries including the United States, Australia, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, New Zealand, Vietnam, Brunei, Japan, Peru and Chile.

Negotiators insist that progress is being made, but some in the business community are concerned that Canada may be left out of the deal unless it makes significant concessions on market access (including the dismantling of supply management in several agricultural sectors), restrictive intellectual property protections, and investor-state dispute settlement rules that allow companies to sue governments and potentially trump national courts.

Bill C-50, Citizen Voting Act, Comparable To U.S. Voter Suppression Tactics: Expat

OTTAWA — A Conservative bill that restricts the ability of expats to vote is comparable to voter suppression tactics in the American deep south, says a Canadian living in the United States who has been battling Ottawa for the right to cast a ballot.

“These are tried and true tactics that they are drawing from,” Gillian Frank, a visiting fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University, told The Huffington Post Canada. “This is a legislative attempt to disenfranchise a particular population.”

Canada's Wealth Gap Has Spiked Since Start Of Century: StatsCan

Wealth inequality widened in Canada between 1999 and 2012, according to new data from Statistics Canada.
Although all income groups saw at least some increase in wealth, the bottom 60 per cent of households saw their overall share of the country's wealth decline. And the wealth gap between the top 20 per cent and the bottom 20 per cent nearly doubled in that time.

Canada's Trade Deficit At A Surprisingly Wide $3 Billion In April

OTTAWA - Statistics Canada says the country had a $3 billion trade deficit in April.

The April deficit was much bigger than the $2.1-billion deficit that economists had estimated, according to Thomson Reuters, but an improvement over the previous month.

The Soldier's Story

Corporal Shachar Berrin's commander in the Israeli army sentenced him to a week in prison. His brother emailed me to let me know so I wouldn't be surprised when the story eventually broke in the news. Shachar's offense, as handwritten on a disciplinary form, was participating "in a political meeting, while in uniform, in the presence of the media."

That's partly true: He was in uniform, and TV cameras were recording. But it wasn't a political meeting. And judging from circumstances, the real reasons for his quick trial and sentence were the presence of right-wing activists and what he said about serving in the West Bank in daily interaction with Palestinians. "When soldiers, when we, are conditioned and persuaded on a daily basis to subjugate and humiliate people... I think that seeps in," he said, "and I think that when the soldiers go home, when they go inside Israel... they bring that back with them."

How the Red Cross Raised Half a Billion Dollars for Haiti and Built Six Homes

The neighborhood of Campeche sprawls up a steep hillside in Haiti’s capital city, Port-au-Prince. Goats rustle in trash that goes forever uncollected. Children kick a deflated volleyball in a dusty lot below a wall with a hand-painted logo of the American Red Cross.

In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. The main focus of the project — called LAMIKA, an acronym in Creole for “A Better Life in My Neighborhood” — was building hundreds of permanent homes.

Wisconsin Abortion Ban Would Allow Father To Sue For Emotional Distress

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) said this week that he would sign a ban on abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy that does not contain exceptions for rape and incest victims, if the bill reaches his desk. The measure also contains a less-discussed provision that would allow the father to sue the doctor for "emotional and psychological distress" if he disagrees with the abortion, regardless of his relationship with the woman having the procedure.

Wisconsin Assembly Bill 237 would ban abortions after 20 weeks "postfertilization," which doctors would measure as 22 weeks of pregnancy since pregnancies are usually measured from the woman's last menstrual period. If the bill becomes law, doctors who perform an abortion after this time could be charged with a felony and fined up to $10,000, or face up to three and a half years in prison.

New Bill Says It's Time To Track The Data On Police Shootings

Two Democratic senators introduced a bill this week aimed at changing what former Attorney General Eric Holder once called the "unacceptable" lack of data on the subject of police shootings.

Sens. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Cory Booker (D-N.J.) on Tuesday introduced the Police Reporting of Information, Data and Evidence Act (PRIDE), which would require states to report to the Justice Department any time a law enforcement officer is involved in a shooting and any instance where an officer or a civilian is seriously hurt or killed as a result of the use of force. States would also have to report details like the age, race and location of any victims; whether or not the civilians present were armed; and how many civilians and officers were involved.

Elizabeth May calls Harper legacy 'serial acts of vandalism' against public policy

The Prime Minister has committed "serial acts of vandalism against all areas of public policy — criminal justice, immigration and refugee law, health policy, environment, foreign policy," federal Green Party leader Elizabeth May told the Vancouver Observer while in Vancouver on Sunday.

"He's caused the destruction of proper distance between partisan political power and independent expert civil service. He's corrupted our system of government to an elected dictatorship."

Taxes are for the little people

Christy Clark never met a millionaire she didn’t like. And that goes double for their little darlings.
Clark showed her love for private schools on the last day of the most recent sitting of the legislature by tabling legislation permanently exempting them from municipal property taxes, which have not historically been collected. This while the Vancouver School Board has to go into hock to the tune of $1.6 million to build a needed downtown school.

To the Conservatives who voted down a national plan to end violence against women

To the members of the Conservative caucus who voted against M-444, the National Action Plan to End Violence against Women,
There's no doubt that you've heard, in the past year, about the numerous incidents of sexual violence and harassment faced by women in this country. You've heard about former CBC radio host Jian Ghomeshi, who has now been charged with several counts of sexual and physical assault. You've heard about the misogynist Facebook group started by thirteen male students of the 2015 Dalhousie Dentistry class.

US should return stolen land to Indian tribes, says United Nations

A United Nations investigator probing discrimination against Native Americans has called on the US government to return some of the land stolen from Indian tribes as a step toward combatting continuing and systemic racial discrimination.

James Anaya, the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, said no member of the US Congress would meet him as he investigated the part played by the government in the considerable difficulties faced by Indian tribes.

Mayor open to Ottawa monument for residential school survivors

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission is calling for a national monument located in Ottawa “to honour survivors and all the children who were lost to their families and communities.” And the mayor is open to the idea.

The commission also wants a statutory holiday created to commemorate the “history and legacy” of the residential schools.

The recommendations are two of 94 contained in the commission’s final report released Tuesday.

Elizabeth Warren Has Had It With The SEC's Aid To Wall Street Lawbreakers

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White on Tuesday, criticizing White's leadership as "extremely disappointing," and accusing the regulator of "misleading" her about a rule on CEO pay.

Warren said White has broken multiple promises to impose tougher penalties against corporate wrongdoers that White made to senators during her 2013 confirmation process.

This Black Feminist Classic Was a Precursor to #BlackLivesMatter

When I first picked up my mother’s well-worn copy of Black Macho and the Myth of the Superwoman, I’d already been calling myself a feminist for about two years and had penned a scathing takedown of a commercial for boxed macaroni and cheese that implied mothers were somehow responsible for bringing home the pastaand boiling it in a pot.
I was thirteen.     

Beyond the Drone Debate: Should US Military and CIA Be Judge, Jury and Executioner?

In late April, it was revealed that during a January drone strike in Pakistan, the United States accidentally killed two Western hostages held by al-Qaeda. The hostages were American aid worker Warren Weinstein, who was kidnapped by al-Qaeda in 2011, and an Italian named Giovanni Lo Porto, kidnapped in 2012. The killings momentarily reignited discussion in the mainstream media about drone strikes in countries like Pakistan and Yemen. However, the debate was relatively short-lived and left out several important questions, such as the history of assassination in US foreign policy and whether the premises of the extrajudicial killing program are sound.

New Data Offer First Infuriating Glimpse At How The Richest 0.001 Percent Pay Income Taxes

Tax day doesn’t sting much if you live at the gilded edge, according to new data on how the top one-hundredth of one percent and the top one-thousandth of a percent of all filers pay their income taxes. People who make tens of millions of dollars enjoyed falling income tax rates and ballooning wealth for a decade as middle-class taxpayers floundered.
The new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data helps illustrate the logic behind Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) call for radically reshaping the American income tax system to create pricey new brackets for extremely high earners. The numbers provide a deeper look inside the highest income echelon, breaking out data on income tax rates and total yearly earnings in previously unpublished detail. In the last year of the Bush tax cuts, there were well over a thousand people who reported more than $60 million in earnings but paid federal income tax rates far below 20 percent.

You Can Be Prosecuted for Clearing Your Browser History

Khairullozhon Matanov is a 24-year-old former cab driver from Quincy, Massachusetts. The night of the Boston Marathon bombings, he ate dinner with Tamerlan and Dhzokhar Tsarnaev at a kebob restaurant in Somerville. Four days later Matanov saw photographs of his friends listed as suspects in the bombings on the CNN and FBI websites. Later that day he went to the local police. He told them that he knew the Tsarnaev brothers and that they’d had dinner together that week, but he lied about whose idea it was to have dinner, lied about when exactly he had looked at the Tsarnaevs’ photos on the Internet, lied about whether Tamerlan lived with his wife and daughter, and lied about when he and Tamerlan had last prayed together. Matanov likely lied to distance himself from the brothers or to cover up his own jihadist sympathies—or maybe he was just confused.

What 2 Big New Reports on Police Killings Tell Us

Two major news investigations have shed new light onto who dies at the hands of the police—and how. Using public records, news coverage, crowdsourced databases, and old-fashioned reporting, reporters at the Washington Post and Guardian have published what are arguably two of the most extensive examinations of recent police shootings across the country. (Read more about how they compiled their data, here and here.) The two reports confirm and build upon what previous attempts to collect and examine this data have already shown: Police killings happen much more frequently than the existing official data shows.

Harper presides over the growth of precarious work in Canada

Precarious work is on the rise in Canada and internationally.
This is a situation in which people face low wages, part-time, temporary or contract work, limited benefits, periods of unemployment, uncertainty and stress.
CBC reports, "The Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development, often called the developed world's think tank, describes this ugly phenomenon as the rise of the precariat -- a play on the working-class proletariat and meaning those trapped in precarious lives with neither material nor psychological welfare."

Harper's record belies any pledge to 'reconciliation' with First Nations

For more than a century, Canadians were ignorant of the fact that, as Daniel Schwartzreports for CBC, the chances of children dying in Indian residential schools were the same as for those who served in the Second World War.
Most Canadians did not know that tens of thousands of children were stolen away from their families, beaten when they spoke their own languages, forced into humiliating situations such as posing in a parody of "Indian" costumes for visiting dignitaries, fed inadequate food, housed in poorly heated dormitories, sexually abused, and generally treated not much better than slaves.

I came to Canada for asylum, but I still feel lost here

I have been living in Toronto for eight years and I find life is getting harder and harder.
I came to Canada for shelter from a long civil war, a war with which I grew up. I had worked for over 20 years providing community-based services for war-affected people in my country. I was also actively involved in human rights advocacy on issues affecting women and children there.

We Must Start "Shaming" Those Who Destroy Our Climate

During a flight from Montreal to Halifax, I missed a chance to carry out an act of "shaming" against a person who I think has abused his position of authority in Canada.

Given how powerless ordinary folk and public interest groups have become, I would like to see people embarrass the hell out of those who take advantage of the public by lying to us, cheating us, or destroying our priceless environment.

Residential School System Was 'Cultural Genocide': TRC Report

OTTAWA - A moment of shared emotional catharsis bound survivors of Canada's residential schools Tuesday as their collective ordeal was officially branded a "cultural genocide" that tore apart their families and left them to contend with lifelong scars of physical, sexual and emotional abuse.

The massive report by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission makes 94 broad recommendations —everything from greater police independence and reducing the number of aboriginal children in foster care to restrictions on the use of conditional and mandatory minimum sentences.

Candidates suggest federal Liberals favouring big-name hopeful in Montreal riding

MONTREAL - People vying for the federal Liberal nomination in one of the few remaining open ridings in Montreal are not-so-subtly suggesting the party is delaying the vote to favour a perceived star candidate who is a friend of Leader Justin Trudeau.

Melanie Joly, whose charm and fundraising and get-out-the-vote abilities make her highly coveted, became well-known in Montreal after her novice political campaign in 2013 ended with her finishing second in the race to become the city's mayor.

Kathleen Wynne: Please refuse 'honour' from Israel lobby group

On May 4, individuals representing Independent Jewish Voices -- Canada,  Women in Solidarity with Palestine, Dykes and Trans People for Palestine, and Palestine House sent a very similar letter to this one to Premier Kathleen Wynne. In that letter, we requested a meeting with Premier Wynne to discuss this issue further. After waiting nearly four weeks for a response, we decided to publish a letter publicly, with additional support from Palestine solidarity organizations active in Ontario. 

Have you Reddit? A Conservative MP's letter on C-51 'concerning'

Many Canadians took to the streets this weekend to protest Bill C-51. Others have taken to Reddit. Earlier this month, Cameron Smith emailed his MP regarding her support for the bill. He found her reply unnerving, and so he posted it online.
Lois Brown is a Conservative MP for Aurora-Newmarket. Smith is a recent Western graduate living in her riding. Brown's response to Smith's letter references the threat of "jihadi terrorists who endanger our security" and maintains "the threat of radical Islamic extremism is a very real threat."

Arms Industry Ramps Up Lobbying Efforts As Budget Battles Continue

Breaking news! Nearly four years after budget caps imposed by Congress began to modestly rein in runaway spending at the Pentagon, the sky hasn't fallen. In fact, none of the dire predictions of Pentagon contractors - from mass layoffs to a collapse of the U.S. military - have come true. Instead, weapons makers' profits have soared, employment has increased nationwide, and Congress is busily cooking up budget gimmicks to violate its own spending caps and return to record spending levels.

How Private Contractors Have Created a Shadow NSA

About a year ago, I wangled a media invitation to a “leadership dinner” in northern 
Virginia sponsored by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. INSA is a powerful but 
little-known coalition established in 2005 by companies working for the National Security Agency. In recent years, it has become the premier organization for the men and women who run the massive cyberintelligence-industrial complex that encircles Washington, DC.

The keynote speaker was Matthew Olsen, who was then the director of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). He used his talk to bolster the morale of his colleagues, which had recently been stung by the public backlash against the NSA’s massive surveillance programs, the extent of which was still com-ing to light in the steady release of Edward Snowden’s huge trove of documents. “NSA is a national treasure,” Olsen declared. “Our national security depends on NSA’s continued capacity to collect this kind of information.” There was loud, sustained applause.

SCOTUS Delivers Good News for Abusive Trolls

Trolls and libertarians rejoice. In a highly watched case that explored the tough question of what distinguishes protected free speech from illegal threats, the Supreme Court on Monday made it harder for the government to prosecute individuals who are making threatening statements toward others.

The court voided the conviction of Anthony Elonis, who was found guilty of issuing unlawful threats over Facebook with rants that referred to killing his estranged wife. Elonis argued that his posts, which were presented as rap lyrics, were a form of expression protected by the First Amendment. He was convicted in federal district court in Pennsylvania under the "reasonable person" standard: Would a reasonable person consider Elonis' posts threatening?

Truth And Reconciliation Commission: 5 Things To Know

OTTAWA - The Truth and Reconciliation Commons examining Canada's now-defunct residential school system is scheduled to release its final report Tuesday. Here are five things to know about the commission.

1. The commission was established as part of the 2007 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, which also included money to pay for the commission's work.

2. The commission is led by Justice Murray Sinclair, Manitoba's first aboriginal justice. The other commissioners are Marie Wilson, a journalist, university lecturer and former senior manager at several Crown corporations; and Chief Wilton Littlechild, a lawyer and former Progressive Conservative MP.

3. The group is charged with collecting testimony from residential school survivors and compiling their stories into a comprehensive historical record of the schools aimed at educating all Canadians about the residential schools and their legacy.

4. The records of the commission, including recollections from 6,200 former students, many of whom spoke on video, with be kept and managed by the National Research Centre on Indian Residential Schools at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, where they will be publicly accessible.

5. Residential schools operated for about 150 years, with an estimated 150,000 aboriginal children spending time in them. At the height of the residential-school era, the federal government supported 130 such schools. There are an estimated 80,000 survivors of the schools who are still alive.

Original Article
Author: CP

‘Unluckiest. Recovery. Ever': U.S. Beats Canada On Jobs By Biggest Margin In 21 Years

It wasn’t that long ago that Canadians were congratulating themselves, however quietly, on weathering the Great Recession better than most developed nations — and especially better than the U.S., where a prolonged job crisis took hold in the wake of the 2008 financial collapse.

But fast forward to 2015 and the great oil price crash, and the tables have turned — so much so that Canada’s job market is now underperforming the U.S.’s by margins not seen in decades.

Millions Of Canadians Will See 'Steep Decline In Living Standards' In Retirement: CIBC

Though some of them may have a hard time believing it, the Canadians retiring today are the lucky ones. Their offspring face a “steep decline in living standards” as they head to retirement, CIBC World Markets warns.

Responding to the debate sparked last week about reforming the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), CIBC deputy chief economist Benjamin Tal issued a note that sought to avoid the political dogfight while arguing that “a change to the system is essential.”

Peter MacKay exit allows him to collect full pension at 55

By choosing not to reoffer in this year's federal election, Justice Minister Peter MacKay joins a growing list of Conservative MPs who will avoid the impact of pension changes that will triple the amount they must contribute and lock in some of the money for an extra 10 years.

Under new pension rules for MPs passed in 2013, all politicians elected for the first time in the next election must wait until age 65 before they can draw a pension.

Perry Bellegarde, AFN chief, says reconciliation means closing poverty gap

Closing the social and economic gap is a linchpin in reconciliation between aboriginal people and the rest of Canada, AFN Grand Chief Perry Bellgarde said Monday on the eve of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission releasing its final report.

"I urge everybody across Canada to rid themselves of things like the misconceptions about indigenous peoples, the discriminatory, racist attitudes that may exist, to move them out so that new things may come in," Bellgarde said at a news conference in Ottawa.

U.S. Police Have Shot Dead 385 People In Five Months: REPORT

WASHINGTON, May 30 (Reuters) - U.S. police have shot and killed 385 people during the first five months of this year, a rate of more than two a day, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The death rate is more than twice that tallied by the federal government over the past decade, a count that officials concede is incomplete, the newspaper said.

The analysis is based on data the Post is compiling on every fatal shooting by police in 2015, as well as of every officer killed by gunfire in the line of duty.

Banks Behind Hillary Clinton's Canadian Speeches Really Want The Keystone Pipeline

WASHINGTON -- Two Canadian banks tightly connected to promoting the controversial Keystone XL pipeline in the United States either fully or partially paid for eight speeches made by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the period not long before she announced her campaign for president. Those speeches put more than $1.6 million in the Democratic candidate's pocket.

Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce and TD Bank were both primary sponsors of paid Clinton speeches in 2014 and early 2015, although only the former appears on the financial disclosure form she filed May 15. According to that document, CIBC paid Clinton $150,000 for a speech she gave in Whistler, British Columbia, on Jan. 22, 2015.

Senate Lets NSA Spying Expire

WASHINGTON – Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) succeeded Sunday in forcing certain controversial provisions of the Patriot Act to expire, including the NSA’s sweeping data collection program. But the lapse isn’t likely to last long.

Running down the procedural clock in a sensational emergency session Sunday night, Paul left the Senate in a stalemate on the House-passed USA Freedom Act. The bill would have allowed the NSA’s controversial bulk data collection, justified under the expiring Section 215 of the Patriot Act, to continue while the intelligence community works with telecommunications companies to reform the program.

''Imminent'' Collapse of the Antarctic Ice Shelf and a ''New Era'' in the Arctic

Recently, two friends and I attempted to climb Washington State's beautiful, glacier-clad Mount Baker. Roped up while climbing up a glacier, roughly 1,500 feet below the summit, our route reached an impasse.

Given that it was technically early in the climbing season, and that we were on the standard route, we were dismayed to find a snow bridge spanning a 10-foot wide crevasse about to collapse. Finding no other way around the gaping void, we agreed to turn back and return another day.

Chief Justice Roberts Is Poised To Score A Major Victory Against Racial Justice

In February of 1982, a young John Roberts was fresh out of his clerkship for the conservative Justice William Rehnquist, and only a few months into his new job working as an aide to Attorney General William French Smith. Less than two years earlier, the Supreme Court had read the Voting Rights Act narrowly, holding that the law did not permit many cases alleging disenfranchisement against minority voters to move forward. Roberts was now working within the Justice Department to defend his boss’s position that this narrow interpretation of the law should remain in place.

The Kansas Supreme Court Challenged Republicans' Agenda. Their Solution: Replace the Judges.

Since Republican Sam Brownback became governor of Kansas in 2011, he and his allies in the GOP-dominated state Legislature have implemented drastic tax cuts—part of a "real, live experiment" in conservative governance, as Brownback put it in 2012, that has resulted in precipitously falling revenues. But Brownback's tax slashing hit a snag last year when the state Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to increase education funding, potentially forcing the governor to roll back his signature tax cuts in order to increase school spending. So conservatives in Topeka declared war on the court.

Shell, BP, Total Among Companies Calling For Carbon Pricing

STOCKHOLM - Six European oil and gas companies have called for a global price on carbon as a way to curb climate-warming emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.

The chief executives of Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Eni, Total, Statoil and the BG Group made the appeal ahead of a new round of U.N. climate talks Monday in Bonn, Germany.

In a letter to U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius the companies said governments should introduce carbon pricing and eventually link up their carbon markets.

While that involves a cost for fossil-fuel companies, they said "carbon pricing policy frameworks" will help provide a roadmap for energy companies and investors.

Governments are expected to sign a global climate agreement in Paris in December.

Original Article
Author: CP

Ordered back to work, Ontario teachers say this labour dispute isn't over

Teachers in Durham, Peel, and Sudbury's Rainbow school districts have been on strike for over three weeks. Yesterday, almost 70,000 high-school students went back to class, following a decision by the Ontario Labour Relations Board (OLRB).
While classes have resumed in the three striking school districts, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation (OSSTF) says it won't be business as usual in Ontario high schools.

Eyes on the Spies: Canadians Deserve Accountability

For anyone involved in the privacy debate, it's been a busy couple of years. Barely a week goes by without new revelations about the activities of the Canadian spy agency known as Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and its Five Eyes partners in the U.S., U.K., Australia and New Zealand.

In just the past few weeks, for example, we learned that the CSE actively exploited security holes in a popular mobile web browser. We also learned that the U.K. government passed quiet legislation granting Government Communications Headquarters (Britain's version of CSE) immunity for hacking into our computers and mobile phones. And we've seen the U.S. National Security Agency implicated in extensive spying on European citizens and private companies, in ways that go far beyond national security.

Conservative Pension Approach a 'Diversion' that Won't Ease Crisis, Critics Say

The Conservative government last week appeared to loosen its policy on retirement savings, but critics say the shift is little more than political posturing ahead of the fall federal election and is unlikely to ease Canada's pension crisis.

"This was a political manoeuvre by the government," said Chris Roberts, a senior researcher focused on social and economic policy for the Canadian Labour Congress. "As public opinion built, I think they felt they needed to innoculate themselves by doing something on it."

Stop Telling Me to Move to the Suburbs

Seems like every generation since the Second World War has had a reason to flock to the suburbs.

For some of our grandparents, it was racism, escaping from lower-income ethnic enclaves.

For our parents, it was a yard for us kids to play in and a respite from the supposedly crime-ridden cities.

For my generation? Housing prices, thanks to a skyrocketing real estate market and boomers that never seem to tire of telling us we have no choice but to go east, young wo/man.