Tuesday, November 30, 2010

David Miller's last day as Mayor of Toronto

After seven successful years of serving the City of Toronto as mayor, David Miller is now serving his final day. Here are two recent articles from the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star, discussing Miller's achievements and the mark he left on the city. As of midnight, December 1, Councillor and mayor-elect Rob Ford (who, as a city councillor, has no accomplishments to his name to speak of) will assume Toronto's mayoralty. Anyways, what these two articles didn't really mention is that Toronto has the lowest property tax rates in the Greater Toronto Area; a AA1 credt rating from Moody's Investor Service; a $355 million budget surplus; Price Waterhouse Coopers rated Toronto the most liveable city in the world; AON Consulting rated Toronto the least riskiest city for employment in the world; Statistics Canada rated Toronto with the third lowest crime severity in Canada; Worldwide Centres of Commerce rated Toronto the third best place in North America to do business; Foreign Policy Magazine rated Toronto the fourth best cultural centre in the world; and KPMB Auditing Services rated Toronto with the fifth most competitive taxes in the world. Also, thanks to Mayor Miller, Toronto will be hosting the 2015 Pan Am Games, has been hosting the annual and very popular Nuit Blanche arts festival for a few years now, and overall, Toronto is a much better place than it was seven years ago.

Give David Miller his due:

In a series of media interviews on Monday, Mayor David Miller listed all the great things he has done in seven years as mayor of Toronto. Tooting his own horn? You could say that. But after an election when his legacy was under attack, and that ended with the victory of one of his fiercest critics, Mr. Miller deserves a chance to remind Torontonians that he wasn’t all bad.

In fact, for all his faults, he can boast some solid accomplishments. To begin with, he made city hall much more accountable. When he took office in 2003, the city administration was under a cloud cast by the MFP computer-leasing scandal. Brandishing a broom, he promised to clean the place up – and did

Miller’s exit strategy: a long nap, then the World Bank:

A fitting memento, considering Miller is likely to be remembered as the Transit Mayor. It is for his work in that area that Miller hopes to be remembered.

“I’m proud of the complete transit renaissance in this city. When I was first elected mayor, we were running 24-year-old buses,” he said. The bus fleet has been completely replaced. Streetcar and subway replacements are on their way.

“And of course Transit City, which went from being an election commitment in 2006, to being a plan in early 2007, then a fully funded plan on June 15, 2007, and to construction starting in 2009, which in Toronto terms is lightning speed.”

Also on his watch, the crime rate has dropped — in large part thanks to investments in priority neighbourhoods and community policing strategies — and Toronto has become an environmental leader on the world stage.

Miller remained popular throughout his two terms, including a landslide re-election victory in 2006. And despite the disastrously handled garbage strike two summers ago, which left pundits declaring that Miller’s political future was toast, an Ipsos Reid poll conducted in late August showed that Miller, had he run again, would have won handily.

Decline in Canadian polar bears

Unearthed Picassos spark legal duel

Majority of Canadians support legalizing pot

Angus Reid:

Majority of Canadians Would Legalize Marijuana, But Not Other Drugs

The views of Canadians on the legalization of marijuana have not shifted over the past two years, with a majority of respondents calling for the substance to be readily available, a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll has found.

As was the case two years ago, a majority of Canadians (53%) support the legalization of marijuana. People in British Columbia (61%), Alberta (59%) and Ontario (57%) hold the highest level of support for the legalization of cannabis.

A high proportion of Canadians are in favour of two of the measures proposed by the current federal government to curb drug abuse in Canada. However, just like in 2008, marijuana is in a class of its own. While the level of support for the legalization of so-called "hard drugs" is negligible—and actually dropped further since the 2008 Angus Reid survey—a majority of Canadians have no qualms about making cannabis legal

Continue reading here.

Guardian editor: more huge Wikileaks coming

Democracy Now!:

"In the coming days, we are going to see some quite startling disclosures about Russia, the nature of the Russian state, and about bribery and corruption in other countries, particularly in Central Asia," says Investigations Executive Editor David Leigh at the Guardian, one of the three newspapers given advanced access to the secret U.S. embassy cables by the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks. "We will see a wrath of disclosures about pretty terrible things going on around the world." Leigh reviews the major WikiLeaks revelations so far, explains how the 250,000 files were downloaded and given to the newspaper on a thumb drive, and confirms the Guardian gave the files to the New York Times. Additional cables will be disclosed throughout the week.

The showdown on tax cuts for the rich

Robert Reich, Former Secretary of Labor; Professor at Berkeley; Author, "Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future"

The President met with Republican leaders at the White House this morning to talk about whether the Bush tax cuts should be extended to top taxpayers, at Republicans want. No decision has been reached, but this is the first test of the President’s resolve with the new Congress — and he should be tough as nails.

Continue reading here.

Noam Chomsky on Wikileaks

Democracy Now!:

In a national broadcast exclusive interview, we speak with world-renowned political dissident and linguist Noam Chomsky about the release of more than 250,000 secret U.S. State Department cables by WikiLeaks. In 1971, Chomsky helped government whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg release the Pentagon Papers, a top-secret internal U.S. account of the Vietnam War. Commenting on the revelations that several Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran, Chomsky says, "latest polls show] Arab opinion holds that the major threat in the region is Israel, that’s 80 percent; the second threat is the United States, that’s 77 percent. Iran is listed as a threat by 10 percent," Chomsky says. "This may not be reported in the newspapers, but it’s certainly familiar to the Israeli and U.S. governments and the ambassadors. What this reveals is the profound hatred for democracy on the part of our political leadership."

Bangladesh police attack peaceful protesters

Amnesty International:

Bangladeshi security forces used excessive force against peaceful protesters participating in a national day-long strike on Tuesday, Amnesty International said today.

Reports from Dhaka and other cities suggests that members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) and other police personnel attacked peaceful demonstrators with batons in over a dozen raids.

Witnesses and local observers told Amnesty International that more than 100 people were injured during the attacks.

"The Bangladeshi government should immediately investigate these attacks by security forces on peaceful demonstrators and ensure that any people hurt receive justice and appropriate compensation,” said Abbas Faiz, Amnesty International’s Bangladesh researcher.

“The RAB has a history of using excessive, sometimes even lethal, force, and this incident demands an immediate and strong reaction from the authorities."

Continue reading here.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Maintenance, security: F-35 costs will soar

The F-35 Lightning II, also known as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), planes arrive at Edwards Air Force Base in California.

The Montreal Gazette:

Canada's new stealth fighter aircraft will require extensive maintenance, as well as very expensive changes to improve security at the military bases they operate from, according to Defence Department documents obtained by the Ottawa Citizen.

Critics of the Conservative government's proposal to buy the high-tech Joint Strike Fighters have been warning that the purchase will come with hidden costs that could drive up the price tag far beyond the current estimate of $16 billion.

The 2006 Department of Defence report, which looked at next-generation fighter planes as well as the stealth Joint Strike Fighter, highlighted issues that could play a factor in any aircraft purchase.

"Stealth aircraft are highly classified fighters therefore they would require special security measures at their bases of operations," the report noted.

"These changes of infrastructure are not currently known but will likely be very expensive. A stealth aircraft will be much more demanding on Canadian infrastructure."

The report also noted that upkeep of the stealth capability "will be maintenance intensive."

Continue reading here.

Violent clashes amidst Egyptian election

Egyptian election: opposition barred from polls

Riot police form a line as opposition members and supporters gather to support their candidates for the upcoming elections.

Human Rights Watch:

Elections to Egypt's People's Assembly on November 28, 2010, were marred by reports that opposition supporters were barred from polling stations and subjected to violence, Human Rights Watch said today. There were reports of numerous irregularities including arrests and harassment of journalists, denial of access for opposition candidate representatives to 30 polling stations visited by Human Rights Watch across the country and widespread allegations of voter fraud.

"The authorities promised that Egyptian civil society could monitor the elections without the need for international observers," said Joe Stork, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Middle East division. "Unfortunately the repeated exclusion of opposition representatives and independent monitors from polling stations, along with reports of violence and fraud suggest that citizens were not able to partake in free elections."

Human Rights Watch did not monitor the voting or counting process and did not seek access to polling stations. Human Rights Watch representatives went to 30 polling stations in six governorates and interviewed voters, candidate representatives, as well as civil society observers and journalists outside polling stations in order to assess the human rights environment surrounding the elections.

Continue reading here.

Cancun climate change summit

Swiss deportation referendum: human rights at risk

The Swiss People’s Party used xenophobic publicity materials

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International urges the Swiss authorities at all levels not to enforce the deportation of foreigners convicted of certain criminal offences if this will result in human rights violations after voters backed the move in a referendum on Sunday.

If the results of the referendum known as the ’Deportation Initiative’ are implemented, the Swiss constitution would be amended to permit the “automatic” and immediate deportation of non-citizens convicted for certain criminal offences to their countries of origin. According to media sources 52.9% per cent of the votes were in favour of the amendment.

Foreign nationals convicted for several criminal offences, including murder, rape, (armed) robbery, trafficking in persons and in drugs, as well as welfare benefit fraud, will be immediately stripped of their residence permit and right to remain in the country.

"If put into practice, the amendment to the constitution risks violating Switzerland’s obligations under international law, in particular the obligation not to return anyone to a country where they would be at risk of torture or other forms of persecution,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Deputy Programme Director.

"Switzerland cannot, and must not, allow popular -- and xenophobic -- initiatives to override its obligations under international law. Switzerland should also grant persons subject to deportation the opportunity to appeal any decision.”

The amendment required by the referendum removes any possibility of appealing the deportation order, which would be made by a regional migration office. The removal of the right to appeal would also put Switzerland in breach of its international obligations.

The move could put many second and third generation migrants at risk of deportation. Those whose parents were not Swiss citizens at the time of their birth, and retain the nationality of their families’ country of origin, could be deported if the amendment is implemented.

The Deportation Initiative took place following a campaign launched by the populist Swiss People’s Party that resorted to openly discriminatory and xenophobic publicity materials, including a poster with a slogan “Ivan S. – a rapist and soon Swiss?” and another with a cartoon graphic depicting a black sheep being kicked out of Switzerland by white sheep.

Diplomatic crisis after huge WikiLeaks release

Democracy Now!:

The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has begun releasing a giant trove of confidential U.S. diplomatic cables that is sending shockwaves through the global diplomatic establishment. Among the findings: Arab leaders are urging the United States to attack Iran; Washington and Yemen agreed to cover up the use of U.S. warplanes to bomb Yemen; the United States is using its embassies around the world as part of a global spy network and asking diplomats to gather intelligence; and much more. We host a roundtable discussion with Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg; Greg Mitchell, who writes the Media Fix blog at The Nation; Carne Ross, a British diplomat for 15 years who resigned before the Iraq war; and As’ad AbuKhalil, a professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus.

The 10 most important WikiLeaks revelations


The AP has concluded that there is nothing "particularly explosive" so far in the archive of State Department cables that has begun to be released by WikiLeaks. That assertion is debatable in itself. But anyone who takes time to browse through the documents will find both fascinating and solidly new and newsworthy information about U.S. foreign policy and international relations.

WikiLeaks says the documents will be released in stages "over the next few months," so much of what we know now comes through the filter of the handful of media organizations who had access to the full archives. Only a few hundred cables have been released. Here are the top 10 revelations so far:

• Diplomats as spies
• Secret war in Yemen
• Iran and North Korea
• Gates skeptical on Iran attack
• Saudis want U.S. to bomb Iran
• Israel bluffing on Iran threats?
• Fears of uranium in Pakistan
• Fatah had warning of Gaza invasion?
• Afghan corruption
• Undiplomatic name-calling

Continue reading here.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Leslie Nielsen 1926-2010


Leslie Nielsen, star of 'Airplane!' and 'Naked Gun,' dead at 84

Leslie Nielsen, whose longtime career as a dramatic actor took a sudden turn into comedy with spoofs like "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun," has died at age 84, his family said Sunday.

The Canadian-born Nielsen's career reached back into the early days of television, when he made frequent appearances on live drama series like "Goodyear Playhouse." He played the earnest starship captain in the 1956 science fiction classic "Forbidden Planet" and made regular appearances on a wide range of TV dramas into the 1970s.

Much of that changed in 1980, when he was cast as a doctor aboard an endangered jetliner in the gag-a-minute disaster-movie parody "Airplane!" Nielsen's deadpan delivery of lines like "I am serious -- and don't call me Shirley" helped launch a second career.

The film's producers went on to cast him in their short-lived television series "Police Squad!" and had him reprise that show's bumbling lead character, Lt. Frank Drebin, a decade later in three "Naked Gun" movies. Nielsen appeared in several similar but less-acclaimed spoofs following those films.

Nielsen died of complications of pneumonia in a hospital near his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, surrounded by family and friends, a family statement said.

Tony Blair, Christopher Hitchens debate religion

The Associated Press:

Toronto — Former British prime minister Tony Blair said Friday his religious beliefs did not play a role in his decision to support the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq during a debate about the merits of religion in Toronto.

Blair attempted to persuade his verbal sparring opponent, writer Christopher Hitchens, that religion is a force for global good when he was asked by an audience member how religion influenced his decision to stand with the United States against Iraq.

"Religion doesn't do policy. All my decisions were based on policy and so they should be, and you may disagree with those decisions but they were made because I genuinely believed them to be right," said Blair before the audience of more than 2,600 at Toronto's Roy Thompson Hall.

Blair, 57, converted to Catholicism after leaving office in 2007. Since then he has started the Tony Blair Faith Foundation to promote understanding between religions.

He faced a fierce opponent in the debating ring Friday night. Hitchens, 61, an avowed atheist, Vanity Fair columnist and author of "God is not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything," has been a prominent voice in attacking religion.

"Is it good for the world to worship a deity that takes sides in wars and human affairs, to appeal to our fear and to our guilt – is it good for the world?" Hitchens said in his opening remarks.

"To terrify children with the image of hell ... to consider women an inferior creation. Is that good for the world?" Hitchens asked as he opened the debate hosted by the Munk Debates center.

Continue reading here.

Inside Story - Battling Rio's drug gangs

Secret US embassy cables revealed

The US state department has worked to contain the potential fallout from the secret diplomatic cables

Al Jazeera English:

Several major media organisations, including The Guardian and The New York Times, have published detailed reports on a massive trove of leaked US diplomatic cables.

The files address negative perceptions of various world leaders, repeated calls for US attack on Iran, and requests for US diplomats to spy on other countries' officials.

The White House has described the leaks as "reckless and dangerous".

There are several explosive revelations contained within the documents including diplomatic notes detailing how Arab leaders in the Gulf have been urging an attack on "evil" Iran.

The documents reveal serious fears in Washington over the security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme.

They also detail advice given to US diplomats on how to gather intelligence and pass information of interest over to the country's spy agencies. According to media reports, senior UN figures were the target of intelligence gathering by US diplomats.

The cache of documents contain allegations of corruption against foreign leaders, who are subjected to stinging criticism in the cables, with Vladimir Putin referred to as an "alpha-dog."

Angela Merkel "avoids risk and is rarely creative", and Hamid Karzai is described as being "driven by paranoia."

World leaders have scrambled to contain the diplomatic fallout in advance of the expected full release by Wikileaks of the full set of cables later on Sunday.

The classified documents reportedly cover correspondence between US diplomatic missions abroad and the state department in Washington and could reveal "unflattering" views that American officials held about close EU allies and countries like Russia and Turkey.

US diplomats have been visiting foreign ministries hoping to stave off anger over the cables, which are internal messages that often lack the niceties diplomats voice in public.

WikiLeaks has said the newest release will be seven times the size of the October publication of 400,000 Iraq war documents, the biggest leak to date in US intelligence history.

The site also published 77,000 classified US files on the Afghan conflict in July.

The document release will contain more than 250,000 cables and 8,000 diplomatic directives - mostly from the last five years.

Speculation has swirled on the inclusion of cables about US ties to separatist groups in Turkey, perceptions of the UK coalition government, and allegedly corrupt politicians in several countries.

Continue reading here.

Street battles rock Egyptian election

Messages of Hope

NOH8 Campaign:

This year, the NOH8 Campaign scheduled its open shoot in College Station, Texas to coincide with the You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project. While people were getting their NOH8 photos taken on-stage at the Rudder Theatre, others were taking the time to write their own messages of support. Texas A&M University's GLBT Resource Center helped us coordinate the project, spreading a roll of black construction paper and colored chalk along the edge of the stage. As the holiday weekend comes to a close and we all prepare to return to work, we wanted to leave you with this banner to reflect on.

The You-Are-Loved Chalk Message Project is a suicide-prevention awareness event held each October that encourages the public display of positive messages of hope - via sidewalk chalk - intending that the message will positively affect someone passing by the message. Check out USA Today's article on the Project here.

By spreading positive, affirming messages like the ones in the Chalk Message Project, we increase the chances that somebody who is feeling lonely, confused, or desperate will see the messages and gain some hope. Knowing that someone out there is on their side - even if they don't necessarily know who - it can really give people a sense of empowerment and community.

Brazil police claim victory over Rio drug gangs

Lacking all conviction

Paul Krugman, The New York Times:

Mark Thoma directs us to an appalling story — apparently Obama held a meeting after the midterm to debate whether our unemployment problem is cyclical or structural.

What I want to know is, who was arguing for structural? I find it hard to think of anyone I know in the administration’s economic team who would make that case, who would deny that the bulk of the rise in unemployment since 2007 is cyclical. And as I and others have been trying to point out, none of the signatures of structural unemployment are visible: there are no large groups of workers with rising wages, there are no large parts of the labor force at full employment, there are no full-employment states aside from Nebraska and the Dakotas, inflation is falling, not rising.

More generally, I can’t think of any Democratic-leaning economists who think the problem is largely structural.

Yet someone who has Obama’s ear must think otherwise.

No wonder we’re in such trouble. Obama must gravitate instinctively to people who give him bad economic advice, and who almost surely don’t share the values he was elected to promote. That’s what I’d call a structural problem.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Young Egyptians campaign for social justice

Brazilian police clash with gangs in Rio

The battle to preserve Mexico's ancient coral reefs

US forces match Soviet occupation of Afghanistan

Soviet veteran urges Afghanistan pullout

"The dominant culture is killing the planet"

Democracy Now!:

We speak with Derrick Jensen, who has been called the poet-philosopher of the ecological movement. He has written some 15 books critiquing contemporary society and the destruction of the environment. His many books include A Language Older than Words, Endgame, What We Left Behind, Resistance against Empire, and Deep Green Resistance. "I think a lot of us are increasingly recognizing that the dominant culture is killing the planet," Jensen says. "I think it’s very important for us to start to build a culture of resistance, because what we’re doing isn’t working, clearly."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Stop billion dollar giveaways to oil and gas


NDP shows oil and gas subsidies top $2.5 billion per year, divert funds from renewables

With UN climate change talks beginning in Cancun next week, New Democrat Leader Jack Layton said the Conservative government needs to finally get serious about fighting climate change. To start, the government can honour their G20 promise to stop subsidizing profitable oil and gas companies.

Layton released new research from the NDP today, which pegs oil and gas subsidies at over $2.5 billion a year.

“Canada is walking into the Cancun climate change meetings empty-handed, now that unelected Conservative senators have killed the NDP’s climate change bill,” said Layton. “By ending federal subsidies to oil and gas industries, we can save Canadians $2.5 billion per year and show the world that we’re serious about developing a clean energy economy.”

While Canada promised to eliminate these inefficient fossil fuel subsidies at the 2009 Pittsburgh G20 meeting, the government has refused to honour this commitment. While the Harper Conservatives insist their climate change plan will mirror the American plan, the Obama administration has already moved on eliminating tax breaks to the oil industry, worth $36 billion.

Continue reading here.

Beatings, abuse by Moroccan security forces

Tents burn after Moroccan security forces broke up the camp on the outskirts of Western Sahara's capital, El-Ayoun, on November 8, 2010.

Human Rights Watch:

Moroccan security forces repeatedly beat and abused people they detained following disturbances on November 8, 2010, in the Western Sahara capital city of El-Ayoun, Human Rights Watch said today. Security forces also directly attacked civilians, a Human Rights Watch investigation showed. The Moroccan authorities should immediately end the abuse of detainees, and carry out an independent investigation into the abuse, Human Rights Watch said.

Early on November 8 the Moroccan security forces moved to dismantle the Gdeim Izik tent camp - about 6,500 tents Sahrawis had erected in early October to protest their social and economic conditions in Moroccan-controlled Western Sahara. That set off violent confrontations between residents and security forces both in the camp and in nearby El-Ayoun. Eleven security officers and at least two civilians were killed, by official count. Many public and private buildings and vehicles were burned in the city.

"The security forces have the right to use proportionate force to prevent violence and protect human life, but nothing can justify beating people in custody unconscious," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East and North Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Continue reading here.

Egyptian faces five years in jail for Facebook posts

Bassyouni's trial comes amid a crackdown on freedom of expression ahead of 28 November elections

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International today called on the Egyptian authorities to stop the trial in a military court of a Facebook user facing up to five years in prison after he published public information on Egypt’s military service.

Ahmed Hassan Bassyouni, 30, appeared before a military court Tuesday 24 November charged with revealing military secrets, for establishing a Facebook group on carrying out military service and answering questions on the military without permission.

The name of the Facebook group, the ‘Conscription and Mobilization Department’, is identical to that of the official body in charge of Egyptian military service. However, Ahmed Hassan Bassyouni is believed to have made it clear that his was not an official government website.

“It appears that Ahmed Hassan Bassyouni is being tried solely for publishing information readily available in the public domain and often published in local newspapers. If this is the case, Amnesty International would consider him a prisoner of conscience”, said Amnesty International.

Continue reading here.

Brazil police reclaim Rio slums

Electoral reform would clean up BC politics

The Times Colonist:

Watching the unravelling of the Liberal and NDP parties and caucuses shows us just how much parties are formed of coalitions.

Both parties are reworking their internal coalition agreements, but doing so largely without input from voters and behind at least somewhat closed doors.

With our current voting system, they have to do it this way or lose the next election.

Our democracy needs the invigorating competition between parties that would be provided by a proportional voting system

Continue reading here.

Kuwait urged to release blogger who criticized PM

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International has urged the Kuwaiti authorities to release a blogger who was sentenced to one year in prison this week, on charges relating to an article he wrote on his blog criticizing the country's Prime Minister.

A criminal court in the capital, Kuwait City, sentenced the journalist and lawyer Muhammad 'Abd al-Qader al-Jasem on Monday after he was convicted of criminal defamation in a case filed against him by the Prime Minister, Shaikh Nasser al-Mohammad al-Sabah.

The sentence began immediately and Muhammad 'Abd al-Qader al-Jasem is held at Kuwait Central Prison.

The case is believed to be one of six that the government has reportedly filed against the journalist and one of four brought by the Prime Minister in the last year.

"Amnesty International believes that Muhammad 'Abd al-Qader al-Jasem has been convicted and sentenced solely for non-violently exercising his right to freedom of expression and is therefore a prisoner of conscience," said Philip Luther, Amnesty International's Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

Continue reading here.

Seniors threatened by changes to income support

The Globe and Mail:

Low-income Canadian seniors could be driven into poverty next summer when they find out Ottawa has cut their federal income support.

Some are poised to lose a key part of their monthly income because of a new policy approved by the federal government without public notice, according to internal guidelines obtained by The Globe and Mail.

The rules change the way lump-sum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds affect Guaranteed Income Supplement payments

Continue reading here.

Conservative's big spending questioned

MP Judy Foot

The Georgian:

While Conservatives embark on a public relations blitz to rally support for the F-35 jet purchase, there are reports of soaring increases in poverty among our seniors, says MP Judy Foote.

“The untendered deal for the F-35 fighter jets is the single largest military purchase in Canadian history at $16-billion – a purchase that has Canadians wondering whether they’re getting the right planes at the right price. Experts have testified that Canadians would achieve $3-billion in savings if the fighter jet purchase went through an open competition,” said Ms. Foote.

She said the Defence Department has launched a public relations campaign across seven Canadian cities in support of the military purchase.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Hammer falls: Tom DeLay found guilty

The Associated Press:

Austin, Texas — The heavy-handed style that made Tom DeLay one of the nation's most powerful and feared members of Congress also proved to be his downfall Wednesday when a jury determined he went too far in trying to influence elections, convicting the former House majority leader on two felonies that could send him to prison for decades.

Jurors deliberated for 19 hours before returning guilty verdicts on charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering in a scheme to illegally funnel corporate money to Texas candidates in 2002. He faces up to life in prison on the money laundering charge, although prosecutors haven't yet recommended a sentence.

Prosecutors said DeLay, who once held the No. 2 job in the House of Representatives and whose tough tactics earned him the nickname "the Hammer," used his political action committee to illegally channel $190,000 in corporate donations into 2002 Texas legislative races through a money swap.

Prosecutors said DeLay conspired with two associates, John Colyandro and Jim Ellis, to use his Texas-based PAC to send $190,000 in corporate money to an arm of the Washington-based Republican National Committee, or RNC. The RNC then sent the same amount to seven Texas House candidates. Under Texas law, corporate money can't go directly to political campaigns.

Prosecutors claim the money helped Republicans take control of the Texas House. That enabled the GOP majority to push through a Delay-engineered congressional redistricting plan that sent more Texas Republicans to Congress in 2004 – and strengthened DeLay's political power.

Continue reading here.

Obama creates polar bear protection zone

The Associated Press:

Washington — The Obama administration is setting aside 187,000 square miles in Alaska as a "critical habitat" for polar bears, an action that could add restrictions to future offshore drilling for oil and gas.

The total, which includes large areas of sea ice off the Alaska coast, is about 13,000 square miles, or 8.3 million acres, less than in a preliminary plan released last year.

Tom Strickland, assistant secretary for fish, wildlife and parks at the Interior Department, said the designation would help polar bears stave off extinction, recognizing that the greatest threat is the melting of Arctic sea ice caused by climate change

Continue reading here.

US Congress aka the millionaires' club

Political Capitol: a new report has found that almost half of congressional members are millionaires

No wonder the DC political class has a bad name – it's filthy rich. Here's a revolutionary idea: why not elect some poor people?

It is one of the great moans of vast numbers of American voters: Washington politicians are just not like them. They are different. They are a breed apart, unable to understand what real life is like for tens of millions of ordinary folks.

Well, now an excellent report has emerged to point out one important way America's nationally elected politicians are, indeed, very different from the recession-plagued and foreclosure-fearing masses. Most of them are rich. Often, very, very rich.

According to the survey, by the Centre for Responsive Politics, almost half of America's senators and members of the House of Representatives are millionaires. A full 261 one of them, in fact. Meanwhile, a mere 1% of the rest of Americans can claim such exalted status.

Continue reading here.

John le Carré: Iraq War, corporate power, Africa

Democracy Now!:

Today, we spend the hour with world-renowned British novelist John le Carré, the pen name of David Cornwell. Le Carré’s writing career spans half a century, during which he has established himself as a master spy writer. His latest novel, his twenty-second, is entitled Our Kind of Traitor. David Cornwell worked in the British Secret Services from the late 1950s until the early 1960s, at the height of the Cold War. His third novel, The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, became an international bestseller. As the Cold War ended, le Carré continued to write prolifically, shifting focus to the inequities of globalization, unchecked multinational corporate power, and the role national spy services play in protecting corporate interests. "The things that are done in the name of the shareholder are, to me, as terrifying as the things that are done—dare I say it—in the name of God," le Carré tells Democracy Now! Perhaps best known among his many post-Cold War novels is The Constant Gardener, depicting a pharmaceutical company’s exploitation of unwitting Kenyans for dangerous, sometimes fatal, drug tests. In this rare US interview, le Carré also discusses Tony Blair’s role in the Iraq war, US policy toward Iran, and international money laundering.

Israel first, America's national security second?

Jonathan Pollard


In one of the United States Congress’ most recent displays of “Israel First” policy, 39 Representatives, all democrats, have requested that President Obama pardon Jonathan Pollard, an American convicted of spying for the State of Israel in 1987. Pollard is currently serving a life sentence for his crimes.

According to American Muslims for Palestine:

Pollard, who was a civilian research analyst with high security clearance for the U.S. Navy, had agreed to spy for Israel for 10 years in exchange for more than $500,000. According to a January 1999 article in the New Yorker by Seymour Hersh, Pollard “betrayed elements of four major American intelligence systems.” Pollard caused extensive damage to U.S. intelligence and U.S. national security because of the nature of the highly sensitive documents he sold to Israel.

In many cases, Israel bartered top-secret U.S. intelligence documents it received from Pollard with the Soviet Union, in exchange for Soviet Jewish colonial emigration to historic Palestine, Hersh wrote.

During sentencing the prosecutor, in compliance with an agreement in which Pollard pled guilty, asked for "only a substantial number of years in prison"; Judge Aubrey Robinson, Jr., not being obligated to follow the recommendation of the prosecutor, and after hearing a "damage-assessment memorandum" from the Secretary of Defense, imposed a life sentence

Continue reading here.

Michael Moore and Wendell Potter on Countdown

Former health insurance industry executive Wendell Potter and Michael Moore met on Countdown with Keith Olbermann to discuss the health insurance industry's attempts to smear Moore and his documentary on the health insurance industry, Sicko. Potter apologized to Moore for his part in the smear campaign, and admits how Moore's documentary was right.

Seniors living in poverty soars nearly 25%

The Globe and Mail:

The number of seniors living in poverty spiked at the beginning of the financial meltdown, reversing a decades-long trend and threatening one of Canada’s most important social policy successes.

The number of seniors living below the low-income cutoff, Statistics Canada’s basic measure of poverty, jumped nearly 25 per cent between 2007 and 2008, to 250,000 from 204,000, according to figures released on Wednesday by Campaign 2000. It’s the largest increase among any group, and as the first cohort of baby boomers turns 65 next year, could place increased pressure on families supporting elderly parents

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Rick's rant: Senate kills climate bill with no debate

Hundreds die in Cambodia stampede

Greenhouse gases in atmosphere hit record levels

The Associated Press:

Geneva — A report by the U.N. weather agency has found that greenhouse gas levels in the atmosphere reached record levels in 2009.

The World Meteorological Organization says efforts to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide haven't diminished the atmospheric concentration of these gases widely blamed for stoking global warming.

The Geneva-based agency says concentrations of carbon dioxide rose in 2009 by 1.6 parts per million, to 386.8 parts per million.

The preindustrial carbon dioxide average was about 280 parts per million. The higher the concentration of greenhouse gases, the more heat is trapped in the atmosphere.

WMO said Wednesday that the recent economic slowdown hadn't significantly affected emissions of greenhouse gases.



WMO report: http://bit.ly/hhrS8B

New Zealand to probe mine disaster

Tea Party activists in the minority

The Associated Press:

Washington — Tea party backers fashion themselves as "we the people," but polls show the Republican Party's most conservative and energized voters are hardly your average crowd.

According to an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 84 percent who call themselves tea party supporters don't like how President Barack Obama is handling his job – a view shared by just 35 percent of all other adults. Tea partiers are about four times likelier than others to back repealing Obama's health care overhaul and twice as likely to favor renewing tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans.

Exit polls of voters in this month's congressional elections reveal similar gulfs. Most tea party supporters – 86 percent – want less government intrusion on people and businesses, but only 35 percent of other voters said so. Tea party backers were about five times likelier to blame Obama for the country's economic ills, three times likelier to say Obama's policies will be harmful and twice as apt to see the country on the wrong track.

These aren't subtle shadings between tea party backers and the majority of Americans, who don't support the movement; they're Grand Canyon-size chasms.

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North and South Korea trade threats

Kill the Senate that killed the bill

NDP MP Megan Leslie:

Last week, the Senate of Canada voted to defeat Canada’s only piece of federal climate change legislation, Bill C-311, The Climate Change Accountability Act. This legislation had passed twice in the House of Commons, the first time in 2008 and the second in May 2010.

This forward-thinking bill would have set firm targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. With short- and long-term goals, it would have held the government accountable through regular reports to Canadians on the achievement of these goals and made Canada a leader in the fight against catastrophic climate change.

Despite Parliament’s support and adoption of this bill, the unelected, unaccountable Senate voted down and killed this much needed legislation in a snap vote at second reading. The Senate killed the bill before they studied it or even heard from expert witnesses. It is virtually unprecedented for the unelected Senate to defeat a bill passed by the elected House of Commons.

From the outset, the Conservative government has been vocal and unabashed in its opposition to this legislation. But as Stephen Harper was unable to kill the bill in the House of Commons, he turned to his unelected, unaccountable Conservative sycophants in the Senate to kill it. Harper has once again demonstrated his lack of commitment to honour the wishes of Canadians who want strong climate change legislation.

Shame on the five Nova Scotian Conservative senators who voted to kill this bill, considering the majority of Nova Scotian MPs supported this legislation. Shame on the Liberal senators who did not vote — because they were not in the House. These unelected senators have acted against the interests and the wishes of Canadians who never had a say in their appointments.

We, along with our New Democratic colleagues, will not let this issue lie without a fight. We will continue to advocate for government accountability on climate change and continue to work to our party’s position of abolishing the Senate.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Governments should not be run like a business

Brian Topp, The Globe and Mail:

Ireland is negotiating a potential €80-billion bailout that will socialize a decade of reckless irresponsibility in its private-sector banking and real-estate markets. Ireland's public sector – its social services, education, health care and infrastructure – is therefore going into trusteeship to pay for the incompetence and greed of its private sector. A key trustee will be the former colonial oppressor, Britain. Another will be Germany. So there will be King and Kaiser in Ireland's future after all.

This is what happens when a nation takes the advice to “run like a business” a little too exuberantly. It is what the conservative agenda looks like, played out to its end.

The state is awash in debt (thanks in part to excessive tax cuts); the deregulated private sector has gorged itself in an orgy of speculative greed, and finally expired in a property and banking bubble; and now the working and middle class – and their children, and their grandchildren – get to pick up the tab while the winners enjoy their properties in the Grand Caymans. Nobody in Ireland stood up to the special interests. They “ran like a business.” Now the bill has come due.

These are the real stakes between those who work for moderate, prudent, incremental progressive government, moving forward within its means in the public interest, and the other side – the mouthpieces for greed and reckless irresponsibility. The shills and charlatans of the populist right, and those who fund them.

Ireland gave itself to them and is paying the price – another chapter in its national tragedy. The rest of us would do well to learn from this. It's a lesson we have danced close to in a number of Canadian jurisdictions already.

Continue reading here.

Iranian parliament wants to impeach Ahmadinejad

The Wall Street Journal:

Iran's parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime.

Lawmakers also launched a new petition to bring a debate on the president's impeachment, conservative newspapers reported Monday.

The reports of challenges to Mr. Ahmadinejad were intended as retorts to a powerful body of clerics that urged Mr. Khamenei to curb the parliament's authority and give greater clout to the president.

In a report released Sunday and discussed in parliament Monday, four prominent lawmakers laid out the most extensive public criticism of Mr. Ahmadinejad to date.

They accused him and his government of 14 counts of violating the law, often by acting without the approval of the legislature. Charges include illegally importing gasoline and oil, failing to provide budgetary transparency and withdrawing millions of dollars from Iran's foreign reserve fund without getting parliament's approval.

"The president and his cabinet must be held accountable in front of the parliament," the report stated. "A lack of transparency and the accumulation of legal violations by the government is harming the regime."

The moves against Mr. Ahmadinejad come as the regime faces domestic pressure over his plans to gradually eliminate subsidies for fuel, food and utilities from an economy strained by a string of international sanctions over Tehran's controversial nuclear program.

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Judge orders Ezra Levant to pay $25,000

The National Post:

A judge has ordered free speech activist Ezra Levant to pay $25,000 to Giacomo Vigna, a Canadian Human Rights Commission lawyer, for libelling him with "reckless indifference" to the truth in blog posts about a major hate speech case.

By accusing Mr. Vigna -- who once represented the CHRC in the prosecution of Freedomsite.orgwebmaster Marc Lemire -- of lying to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, switching critical evidence, failing to honour a promise to the Tribunal chair, and being fired, Mr. Levant "spoke in reckless disregard of the truth and for an ulterior purpose of denormalizing the Human Rights Commission across Canada which makes his statements malicious in that sense." Mr. Justice Robert Smith also ordered Mr. Levant to remove the libellous materials from his website within 15 days. They remained there Friday night, and Mr. Levant said he is getting advice from his lawyers about an appeal.

Mr. Levant's failure to check his facts or seek Mr. Vigna's side of the story meant that he could not claim the new libel defence of "responsible communication on a matter of public interest," introduced this year by the Supreme Court of Canada.

"While the transcripts are a reliable source, Levant did not read the ... transcripts in a diligent manner, but rather chose to extract only one part of the exchange which was taken out of context," the judge wrote. "Given the total lack of urgency, Levant should have sought Vigna's side of the story before publishing the defamatory statements.

"He did not want to check the facts as a responsible journalist would have done because this would interfere with his opportunity to ridicule the Human Rights Commission," Mr. Justice Smith ruled.

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Be very afraid about soaring jet fighter costs

Don Martin, Post Media News:

There's no longer any excuse for future sticker shock when Canada buys its controversial fleet of F-35 jet fighters.

Auditor General Sheila Fraser has identified "troubling" government behaviour in Canada's protracted $11-billion helicopter purchase, which must be corrected to prevent billions more from being wasted in future military spending.

In the generation-long helicopter-buying fiasco, Fraser found the competitions were fixed, the contractual details fudged or hidden while extra toys, gizmos and performance upgrades sent the price soaring on choppers that have suffered from chronically delayed delivery.

If the government refuses to learn from the many mistakes, the $16-billion purchase of Canada's next fighter jets could cost taxpayers $35 billion by the time planes are delivered in 2023. At that point, a future auditor general will deliver a damning report wondering why nobody paid attention to this instructive 2010 analysis.

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No compromises: Bill Maher comes out swinging

The Morning Call:

Bill Maher is not ready for moderation. While his fellow comedians Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert recently held a rally in Washington to "turn it down a notch," Maher came out swinging at the far right without compromise Sunday night at Easton's State Theatre.

Dressed in a black T-shirt and black pants, he alternated facts (which he says are hated by the tea party) and one liners to give his views on U.S. politics. The 54-year old said that in his lifetime, the left has moved to the center and the right has moved to a mental hospital. Responding to those who say, "I want my country back," he said, "I want my country forward!"

He said President Obama could never achieve reconciliation with Republicans, advising him instead to grow a huge Afro and wear a track suit. On televised tours, he could say at the Lincoln bedroom, "This is where I make my babies. Now get outta my crib!"

Maher occasionally glanced at a notes on a music stand, a necessity for his mix of political rant and comedy that continuously changes with the latest news. He gave many statistics to prove America's standing has fallen in many measures. "We are 49th in life expectancy, behind Bosnia, where the biggest cause of death are wolfmen."

Maher name checked Christine O'Donnell, who was a guest some years ago on his show "Politically Incorrect." "She is a sweet girl, but if I had to predict that a guest on my show would become a political candidate, she would have fallen somewhere between Danny Bonaduce and the lady who does the Snapple commercials."

The tea party came in for the most barbs during the show of about an hour and a half. "Why is it everything they want is what Steve Forbes wants? It is a to-do list for a billionaire." He noted the advanced ages of those at a rally, many who were using oxygen; "One match could have wiped out Bill O' Reilly's entire audience." As for their views on evolution, "They think Darwin was the second husband on 'Bewitched'."

Toward the end of the show, Maher took on an even touchier subject for many, religion, which he also took on his feature film, "Religulous. The avowed atheist wondered why God never revealed himself to everyone, only to lone people out in the wilderness who return and call themselves prophets. He also read from Rick Warren's book "The Purpose Driven Life," inserting his own asides and comments.

Using terms like "inbred bigots" and "hillbillies" is not likely to bring any on the right over to his side. But Maher was preaching to the choir (a term he would probably not use), and his 1,550 fans responded as true believers.

Potter to Michael Moore: sorry for smear campaign

Democracy Now!:

We host a joint interview with Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore and Wendell Potter, who was the head of corporate communications for the health insurance giant CIGNA when Moore’s film, Sicko, was released in 2007. Potter left the company in 2008 and has since become the industry’s most prominent whistleblower. In the interview, Potter apologizes for his role in the industry’s attack on Moore and the film.

Moore accepted his apology, but acknowledged to Potter that, “I think we both know this is much larger then what was done to me or in the movie.” Moore said that the industry was willing to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars trying to “stop a movie” because they were afraid it “could trigger a populist uprising against” against, what he called, a “sick system that will allow companies to profit off of us when we fall ill.”

Burundi: crackdown on rights following elections

Human Rights Watch:

Journalists, Civil Society, and Opposition Parties Face Harassment, Restrictions

Nairobi) - Burundi is cracking down on civil society, media, and opposition parties in the wake of troubled local and national elections from May through September 2010, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The 69-page report, "Closing Doors?: The Narrowing of Democratic Space in Burundi," documents abuses including torture, arbitrary arrests, banning of opposition activities, and harassment of civil society groups. Human Rights Watch called on the government to end the abuses and to strengthen institutional mechanisms to promote accountability by government officials and security forces.

"With the elections over, Burundi has a perfect opportunity to reach out to its critics and to work with them to build a more inclusive, rights-respecting state," said Rona Peligal, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. "But instead we are seeing arrests of journalists and opposition party members, and harassment of civil society, crushing hopes that this could be a new beginning for Burundi."

Continue reading here.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Saving progressivism from Obama

Robert Kuttner, Co-founder and co-editor of The American Prospect

If politics continues on its present course, about the best one might expect for 2012 is that the Republicans will nominate such a nut-case that Obama will stagger to re-election. But unless he is re-elected with a mandate to carry out drastically different policies, we can anticipate continued economic pain and continuing drift of the electorate to the right. So what is the alternative? My audacious hope is that progressives can move from disillusion to action and offer the kind of political movement and counter-narrative that the president should have been leading.

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A Mexican hitman's chilling tale

Mexican drug cartels recruit professional killers in order to kidnap, murder and torture rivals, civilians, and police, with some hitmen being as young as 12 years-old. In this Al Jazeera interview, a professional killer claims he has killed friends and family members for "disrespecting his boss".

Michio Kaku smacks down UFO skeptics

Quantum and theoretical physicist and scientist Michio Kaku rationally and logically explains just what is wrong with mainstream science's approach to the UFO phenomenon, and the arrogance of that approach. Kaku also discusses the multiverse, and the possibility that UFOs may not originate from another planet or star system.

Cluster bombs: an absolute ban, no middle ground

A 14-year-old cluster munition survivor is accompanied by friends in the Rashidiyeh camp for Palestinian refugees in Tyre, Lebanon on November 27, 2008. Israel blanketed south Lebanon with cluster munitions during its 2006 war with Hezbollah. The boy lost his legs because he accidentally detonated an unexploded cluster submunition that lingered after an attack.

Human Rights Watch:

Nations Should Reject Weak Alternative to Joining Treaty

(Geneva) - The Convention on Cluster Munitions is the only viable solution to ending the scourge of cluster munitions, Human Rights Watch said in a new book released today. As diplomats in Geneva opened discussions on a weak alternative, Human Rights Watch said that eliminating the harm caused by these inhumane weapons requires the absolute and comprehensive ban contained in the convention.

The 224-page book, Meeting the Challenge: Protecting Civilians through the Convention on Cluster Munitions, is the culmination of a decade of research by Human Rights Watch. It details the humanitarian toll of cluster munitions, analyzes the international process that resulted in the treaty successfully banning them, and presents the steps that nations that have signed the convention should take to fulfill its promise.

"The facts on the ground leave no doubt that cluster munitions inevitably kill and maim many civilians," said Bonnie Docherty, senior researcher in the arms division at Human Rights Watch. "Nations serious about stopping this suffering should join the ban convention and not settle for ineffective half-measures."

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US-backed counter-insurgency campaign is failing

Democracy Now!:

At a conference in Portugal over the weekend, NATO countries agreed to hand over responsibility for Afghanistan’s security to Afghan forces by the end of 2014. In his speech, President Obama claimed there has been significant progress in the fight against the Taliban. But reports from the ground in Afghanistan question these upbeat claims about the ongoing NATO operation. Last spring, NATO launched a major operation in the Taliban-held town of Marjah. The offensive was supposed to showcase America’s new counter-insurgency campaign and demonstrate that victory is still possible. Independent filmmaker Rick Rowley of Big Noise Films recently traveled to Marjah and discovered the counter-insurgency campaign in crisis.

Atwood calls out Harper on accountability, spending

The Edmonton Journal:

Edmonton — Margaret Atwood thinks Canada needs to set up a dictat-o-meter.

Similar to the famous clock that counted down the seconds to nuclear Armageddon, this clock would grade how close Canada creeps toward a dictatorship, said the famous Canadian author Friday in a speech to an audience at the Myer Horowitz Theatre.

A public debate would be needed to judge how much closer the meter would tick after parliament is prorogued, not just once, but twice, she said.

Atwood’s at times tongue-in-cheek address, which garnered much laughter, was the keynote address of the Parkland Institute’s annual fall conference, which runs from Nov. 19 to 21 at the University of Alberta. This year’s theme is Rewriting a Country: Toward a Just and Peaceful Canada.

While Atwood delivered her dictat-o-meter suggestion with humour, it was only after she warned: “The tools for repression and control are multiplying very quickly. Our government: What happened to ‘open and accountable?’ … What happened to democracy?”

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Chalmers Johnson 1931-2010

Democracy Now!:

The distinguished scholar and best-selling author Chalmers Johnson has died. He passed away in California on Saturday afternoon at the age of 79. During the Cold War, he served as a consultant to the Central Intelligence Agency and was a supporter of the Vietnam War, however, later became a leading critic of U.S. militarism and imperialism. He wrote the book, "Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire" in 2000, which became a bestseller after the 9/11 attacks. He went on to complete what would become a trilogy about American empire. Today we re-air part of our last interview with Chalmers Johnson from 2007.

Jimmy Carter calls out Glenn Beck, cable news

From yesterday's edition of CNN's Reliable Sources.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

New Zealand miners still stuck

Tea Party war? Libertarians vs. social conservatives


In the months leading up to the midterm congressional elections, the tea party movement managed to tamp down on its internal divisions in pursuit of a shared goal of defeating Democrats. But with the elections over, the movement's fault lines are starting to show, and tensions between the tea party's social conservative and libertarian wings are poised to explode into an all-out civil war.

"It's easier for them to be united around the political agenda of defeating Democrats than it is going to be agreeing on a legislative agenda," observes Peter Montgomery, a senior fellow at the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way.

The most recent example of an emerging schism: Some tea party activists have linked arms with the gay conservative group GOProud to demand that the new GOP congressional leadership stick to the tea party's core fiscal issues and not those of evangelical Christians. They sent a letter to House Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell imploring them "to resist the urge to run down any social issue rabbit holes in order to appease the special interests." They write:

Already, there are Washington insiders and special interest groups that hope to co-opt the Tea Party's message and use it to push their own agenda—particularly as it relates to social issues. We are disappointed but not surprised by this development. We recognize the importance of values but believe strongly that those values should be taught by families and our houses of worship and not legislated from Washington, D.C.

The letter represents a direct challenge by the tea party's libertarian faction to the GOP's historic fealty to its base of evangelical Christians. Represented in the GOProud letter by Andrew Ian Dodge, a Maine-based coordinator for the Tea Party Patriots, the tea party libertarians believe the movement has been successful in large part because it has avoided divisive social issues like abortion and homosexuality. They want the movement and the leaders it helped elect to Congress to stay focused on the limited agenda it set out from the beginning. Joining up with a gay Republican group certainly drives that point home. But it also promises to ruffle some feathers—and not just those of the establishment social conservatives who've been on the outside of the movement looking in.

Continue reading here.

Buffet: trickle-down theory has failed

The Huffington Post:

Washington - Billionaire Warren Buffett rebutted claims that the Obama administration is unjustly hurting business orders with high taxes by saying that in fact, the wealthy have never had it so good.

"I think that people at the high end, people like myself, should be paying a lot more in taxes. We have it better than we've ever had it," he told ABC's Christiane Amanpour in a clip played on "This Week" on Sunday.

When Amanpour pointed to critics' claims that the very wealthy need tax cuts to spur business and capitalism, Buffett replied, "The rich are always going to say that, you know, 'Just give us more money, and we'll go out and spend more, and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.' But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on."

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