Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Col. Lawrence Wilkerson on Cheney's book tour

Dick Cheney is on a media blitz promoting his memoir, "In My Time: A Personal and Political Memoir". It's out today and Cheney is saying that "heads will explode" upon reading it. We see a now notorious former vice president vehemently defend the policies of his administration, including the most gruesome of torture. Retired U.S. Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell weighs in.

The new tax havens

Victims want justice for medical experiments

Democracy Now!:

A White House bioethics commission has revealed gruesome new details about venereal disease experiments from 1946 to 1948 in which U.S. medical officials intentionally infected Guatemalan sex workers, prisoners, soldiers and mental patients with syphilis in order to study the effects of penicillin. The commission concluded that nearly 5,500 Guatemalans were subjected to diagnostic testing — without their consent — and more than 1,300 were exposed to venereal diseases by contact or inoculations. At least 83 died over the course of the experiments, which were approved by the Guatemalan government. President Obama has apologized for the program, and Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom has described it as a "crime against humanity" and ordered his own investigation. We discuss the commission’s findings with one of its members, Dr. Anita Allen, a professor of law and philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. We are also joined by Piper Hendricks, an attorney collaborating with Guatemalan lawyers on a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government on behalf of 700 Guatemalans who were unknowingly infected with syphilis. Since the case was filed in March, one victim has passed away. "This is something that happened many, many years ago, and people have been waiting for decades to see justice," notes Hendricks. "Time is of the essence to address the horrifying things that people went through back in the late 1940s."

Corporations pay more in lobbying than taxes

A new report from the Institute for Policy Studies shows that of 2010's 100 highest paid corporate chief executives in the US, twenty-five took home more in CEO pay than their company paid in federal income taxes for 2010. All in all the 25 CEO's averaged 16.7 million dollars in salary, well above last year's 10.8 million. And when tax time did come, most of the companies actually came out ahead, collecting tax refunds from the IRS that averaged $304 million. Ana Kasparian co-host of The Young Turks discusses.

$60 billion lost in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Huffington Post:

Washington - As much as $60 billion in U.S. funds has been lost to waste and fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade through lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and payoffs to warlords and insurgents, an independent panel investigating U.S. wartime spending estimates.

In its final report to Congress, the Commission on Wartime Contracting said the figure could grow as U.S. support for reconstruction projects and programs wanes, leaving both countries to bear the long-term costs of sustaining the schools, medical clinics, barracks, roads and power plants already built with American tax dollars.

Much of the waste and fraud could have been avoided with better planning and more aggressive oversight, the commission said. To avoid repeating the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, government agencies should overhaul the way they award and manage contracts in war zones, the commission recommended.

Continue reading here.

US military pensions in question

Long before the first bullet was fired in World War II, the US government made a deal with its military - serve 20 years and receive a pension worth half of your pay. Since then, it has been an untouchable political promise. President Barack Obama has called it a "moral obligation". But given the nation's debt, it may not be an obligation that the US can afford to keep. Having studied the matter, a high-level Pentagon board is recommending changes to the system the will affect those currently in uniform. Al Jazeera's Patty Culhane reports from Washington, DC.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Really? A 9/11 colouring book for kids?

Think Progress:

Believing that the upcoming 10th anniversary of Sept. 11 is best memorialized in crayon, Really Big Coloring Books, Inc. is publishing a new coloring book entitled “We Shall Never Forget 9/11: The Kids’ Book of Freedom.” In offering kids the option of coloring the Twin Towers burning, mourning survivors, or the Navy SEALs shooting Osama Bin Laden, publisher Wayne Bell insists that “the doodles represent patriotism,” a “simplistic, honest tool” to “help educate children on events on 9/11.” But many Muslims describe it as, in a word, “disgusting.”

Pointing out that Muslims are already dealing with an environment of increasing Islamophobia, Michigan Council on American Islamic Relations representative Dawud Walid noted that “nearly all of the mentions of Muslims in the book are accompanied by the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘extremist.’” Indeed, the page depicting a Navy SEAL aiming at bin Laden cowering behind is veiled wife reads “Children, the truth is, these terrorist acts were done by freedom-hating Islamic Muslim extremists. These crazy people hate the American way of life because we are FREE and our society is FREE.” Bell’s response? “The truth is the truth“

Noting that one page depicts a woman mourning with a cross chain dangling from her neck, Walid says “Muslims mothers lost sons too.” He also noted that he’s not an advocate of showing children violent images — a sentiment that many military families share. Shariah Gibbs, a military spouse in Germany, said “This should not be a coloring book.” Another said, “I would not buy a coloring book [about 9/11]…To me, coloring books should be fun….this is not!”

It is important to note that Bell has published other coloring books on topics “from dinosaurs and zoo animals to African-American leaders, President Obama, superheroes of the Bible and even the Tea Party.” He even said that, if asked to print a book reflecting positive images of Muslim Americans, “I’d print it tomorrow.” To which Walid said, “Well, I’m asking him to do it right now.”

Continue reading here.

Ford's move to control of port lands denounced

The Globe and Mail:

Plans by the Ford administration to seize control of development in the port lands go against a commitment from three levels of government to create a large urban park at the mouth of the Don River, says Glen Murray, the provincial cabinet minister who is MPP for the area.

Calling the move, “abrupt and odd,” Mr. Murray pointed out that most of the funds for Waterfront Toronto have come from provincial and federal coffers, with the city’s contributions mostly in the form of land.

Urban designer and architect Ken Greenberg, a key player in the winning design to transform the mouth of the Don River, said it would be “foolish” and costly for the city to walk away from decades of planning, especially when the efforts of Waterfront Toronto are bearing fruit.

“The timing is astonishing, given what we’re achieving,” said Mr. Greenberg, referring to activity in the East Bayfront area including the new Corus building and the planned waterfront campus of George Brown College. “The idea that you are now somehow doing a fire sale at a time when things are working just seems perverse.”

Waterfront Toronto defended its plan for the port lands – which involved years of consultations and received unanimous approval from city council exactly one year ago. An election in November changed the composition of council and brought in Mr. Ford as mayor.

The port lands plan took years to finalize, said Waterfront Toronto spokeswoman Marisa Piattelli.

Area Councillor Pam McConnell warned that any effort to change plans for the mouth of the Don River and the port lands – both approved by council – could open the city to lawsuits from developers in adjacent areas.

“You can’t just rewrite history because you won an election,” she said. Private developers have invested millions in the East Bayfront and other nearby sites because of all three governments’ plans for the Lower Don Lands.

Continue reading here.

Ex-Bush official willing to testify against Cheney

Democracy Now!:

As former Vice President Dick Cheney publishes his long-awaited memoir, we speak to Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell. "This is a book written out of fear, fear that one day someone will 'Pinochet' Dick Cheney," says Wilkerson, alluding to the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was arrested for war crimes. Wilkerson also calls for George W. Bush and Cheney to be held accountable for their crimes in office. "I’d be willing to testify, and I’d be willing to take any punishment I’m due," Wilkerson said. We also speak to political and legal blogger Glenn Greenwald about his recent article on Cheney, "The Fruits of Elite Immunity." "Dick Cheney goes around the country profiting off of this sleazy, sensationalistic, self-serving book, basically profiting from his crimes, and at the same time normalizing the idea that these kind of policies…are perfectly legitimate choices to make. And I think that’s the really damaging legacy from all of this," says Greenwald.

Gazebos and the governing morality

Lawrence Martin, Opinion, The Globe and Mail:

What sort of punishment should be handed out to a cabinet minister who, judging by an auditor-general’s report, was found in clear breach of federal policies on accountability?

Should he be shuffled to another post? Should he be dropped from cabinet entirely? Or should he, as appears to be the case with Treasury Board President Tony Clement, be allowed to remain in his post, a post wherein he stands watch over the very type of transgressions of which he is accused.

To refresh the memory, he operated a $50-million government program that was sold to Parliament as an infrastructure fund to reduce border congestion but instead was used as a treasure chest to pretty up his riding with parks, walkways, gazebos, etc. Safe to say that the array of projects, part of the G8 Legacy Infrastructure Fund, didn’t diminish Mr. Clement’s electoral prospects. Funds to improve the G8 summit site in Huntsville, Ont., were well within reason, but the lucre was spread far beyond the Muskokan municipality.

Opposition critics, meanwhile, smell scandal – a cover-up of a $50-million pork-barrelling operation. In the late 1990s, when the Liberals ran grant programs like the Transitional Jobs Fund without leaving much of a paper trail, outraged conservatives railed at the Chrétien government for almost two years running.

Continue reading here.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Obama 'Brand for the Corporate State'

In a massive dump of 55,000 more State Department cables by Wikileaks today, we saw the first hand written account of Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham's visit to Libya in 2009. Gaddafi was in the good graces of the US and discussions of weapons sales had taken place. But two years later, what happened to that whole guarantee against foreign aggression? Chris Hedges, author of "The World As It Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress" discusses.

New York escapes worst as Irene passes

New York was braced for the worst, but it seems to have escaped most of the wrath of tropical storm Irene. The storm has been downgraded from a hurricane to a tropical storm as it bore down on the US east coast. But, the weather has still packed a punch. Al Jazeera's Rosiland Jordan reports from Baltimore as US residents survey aftermath.

Corporate free loaders of the US economy

We need to go after all the free loaders living in America. You know those guys addicted to welfare that's bankrupting our nation. Those same guys that don't pay their fair share in taxes. Those guys who just dirty up the place and expect the people around them to clean it up. It's time to tell them that the free ride is over! So are you listening GE, Exxon Mobile, Citigroup?? Because I'm talking to you! And I'm talking to you as a "person" - because after all according to Mitt Romney - that's what you are.

Attention Governor Perry: Evolution is a fact

British Evolutionary Biologist and Author Richard Dawkins, Opinion, The Washington Post:

There is nothing unusual about Governor Rick Perry. Uneducated fools can be found in every country and every period of history, and they are not unknown in high office. What is unusual about today’s Republican party (I disavow the ridiculous ‘GOP’ nickname, because the party of Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt has lately forfeited all claim to be considered ‘grand’) is this: In any other party and in any other country, an individual may occasionally rise to the top in spite of being an uneducated ignoramus. In today’s Republican Party ‘in spite of’ is not the phrase we need. Ignorance and lack of education are positive qualifications, bordering on obligatory. Intellect, knowledge and linguistic mastery are mistrusted by Republican voters, who, when choosing a president, would apparently prefer someone like themselves over someone actually qualified for the job.

Any other organization -- a big corporation, say, or a university, or a learned society - -when seeking a new leader, will go to immense trouble over the choice. The CVs of candidates and their portfolios of relevant experience are meticulously scrutinized, their publications are read by a learned committee, references are taken up and scrupulously discussed, the candidates are subjected to rigorous interviews and vetting procedures. Mistakes are still made, but not through lack of serious effort.

The population of the United States is more than 300 million and it includes some of the best and brightest that the human species has to offer, probably more so than any other country in the world. There is surely something wrong with a system for choosing a leader when, given a pool of such talent and a process that occupies more than a year and consumes billions of dollars, what rises to the top of the heap is George W Bush. Or when the likes of Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann or Sarah Palin can be mentioned as even remote possibilities.

Continue reading here.

The greatest speech ever made

One of the most important speeches in recorded history was given by a comedian by the name of Charlie Chaplin. If you like what you see please share the video any way you can and pass the message on.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Steve Jobs' record on worker rights

Working Blog:

Apple has continued to use a Chinese contractor, Foxconn, to produce its iPads and iPhones, despite allegations of the company's horrific workers’ rights abuses. Foxconn routinely forces it workers to work two to three times the legal Chinese limit and to work in brutal and often unsafe conditions that have led to many accidents, as Michelle Chen reported for Working In These Times. These working conditions led to 10 Foxconn worker suicides at the company's Shenzhen facility in 2010 alone.

The suicide problem at Foxconn’s Chinese factories became so bad that the company put up steel wire to prevent workers from jumping and killing themselves. In June 2010, the same month that Jobs unveiled a new version of the wildly successful iPhone, the UK's Daily Mail newspaper published a disturbing undercover report on conditions within Foxconn's massive factory complex in Shenzhen. It's worth quoting at length:

[W]e encountered a strange, disturbing world where new recruits are drilled along military lines, ordered to stand for the company song and kept in barracks like battery hens - all for little more than £20 a week.

In what's been dubbed the 'i-Nightmare factory', the scandal focuses on two sprawling complexes near Shenzhen, two decades ago a small fishing port and now a city of 17 million people.

This is the epicentre of operations for Foxconn, China's biggest exporter, which makes products under licence for Apple using a 420,000-strong workforce in Shenzhen. They have 800,000 workers country-wide.

And as Jobs was speaking in San Francisco [while announcing the iPhone], new measures were being secretly introduced at Foxconn to prevent the suicide scandal from worsening and damaging Apple sales globally.

Astonishingly, this involves forcing all Foxconn employees to sign a new legally binding document promising that they won't kill themselves.

Instead of cancelling its contract with Foxconn and moving production back to the United States, Apple hired a team of suicide prevention specialists to make recommendations including “better training for hotline staff and care center counselors and better monitoring to ensure effectiveness.”

On the home front, the company's labor practices are also far from perfect, as a recent organizing drive by Apple’s retail workers has brought to light. At its retail stores, the company prefers to hire part-time workers and keeps many employees working part-time who wish to be full-time employees. As a result, many workers cannot afford to buy Apple’s health insurance, as Josh Eidelson reported last month for Working In These Times

Continue reading here.

Homelessness escalates in Britain

Homelessness in one of the richest country's in the world is on the rise. More and more people in Britain are now relying on the state and charities for a roof over their heads. In the second quarter of this year, around 9, 000 homes were repossessed in Britain. Interest rates here are low at the moment. But, there are fears that when they do eventually rise, more families will struggle. And more will end up turning to the authorities to help provide a roof over their heads. Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward travelled to the city of Bristol to find out how the rising cost of living is affecting people from all walks of life.

Dr. King weeps from his grave

Dr. Cornel West, Opinion, The New York Times:

The age of Obama has fallen tragically short of fulfilling King’s prophetic legacy. Instead of articulating a radical democratic vision and fighting for homeowners, workers and poor people in the form of mortgage relief, jobs and investment in education, infrastructure and housing, the administration gave us bailouts for banks, record profits for Wall Street and giant budget cuts on the backs of the vulnerable.

The absence of a King-worthy narrative to reinvigorate poor and working people has enabled right-wing populists to seize the moment with credible claims about government corruption and ridiculous claims about tax cuts’ stimulating growth. This right-wing threat is a catastrophic response to King’s four catastrophes; its agenda would lead to hellish conditions for most Americans

Continue reading here.

French rich love their country more than US rich?

America's wealthiest could learn a thing or two from a nation across the pond. In my Daily Take - I'll tell you why the wealthiest in France DIDN'T need a memo from Warren Buffett to do the right thing for their country!

Republicans film, put people on watch lists

Republican Congressmen Dan Webster of Florida and Tim Griffin of Arkansas

Think Progress:

In recent weeks GOP congressmen have resorted to all sorts of underhanded schemes to avoid interacting with their angry constituents back home over August recess. Now two Republican freshmen, Reps. Daniel Webster (R-FL) and Tim Griffin (R-AR), are taking this trend one step further, using disturbing intimidation tactics and “watch lists” to discourage constituents from asking them questions:

Rep. Webster’s Winter Garden, Florida district office gave out a “Watch List” of six Floridians who had asked questions at Webster’s previous town halls. The list, with the header “For the Media,” included names, photographs, and questions that members of the media should ask them.

The Watch List itself doesn’t contain any information on who wrote it or where it comes from. The memos surfaced in Arkansas in connection to the office of Rep. Tim Griffin, and were traced back to Rep. Webster’s office.

With black and white photos that resemble police surveillance, some of them pulled from the individuals’ Facebook profiles, the memo is clearly meant to intimidate these six people and anyone else who might stand up and ask a question of their elected representative. At a Griffin town hall, staffers were handing out the Watch List to attendees, calling it their “homework.” Griffin staffers were also spotted taking photos and shooting video of attendees, creating an extra layer of intimidation.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Stephen Lewis - Inspiring Jack Layton eulogy

"We're all shaken by grief but I believe we're slowly being steadied by a new resolve and I see that resolve in words written in chalk and in a fresh determination on people's faces," Lewis said, referring to hundreds of messages scrawled in chalk on the grounds of Toronto City Hall.

"A resolve to honour Jack by bringing the politics of respect for all, respect for the Earth and respect for principle and generosity back to life."

Jack Layton State Funeral - Special tribute

The emotional tribute video that played during the moving funeral ceremony of Jack Layton at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

State Funeral of Jack Layton -- August 27, 2011 at Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto.

Jack Layton's final Question Period June 23, 2011

Jack Layton defends the rights of postal workers.

British Columbia rejects HST in referendum

The Globe and Mail:

“They can’t simply do things because it’s the will of the premier or the party,” he said, noting the government must consult the people.

B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon said B.C. will return to a PST and GST split within 18 months, and he will meet with federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty next month to discuss repayment of $1.6-billion in transitional funding Ottawa paid B.C. to adopt the tax.

He also said B.C. will tighten operational spending but not job-creating capital expenditures, and balance its books, as scheduled, by 2013-2014.

In July, 2009, two months after a provincial election in which the B.C. Liberals ruled out the HST, Mr. Campbell announced the province. would follow Ontario’s lead in creating a single harmonized sales tax. Mr. Campbell resigned in late 2010, only 17 months into a third Liberal term, suggesting his own unpopularity over the HST was blocking the government’s economic agenda.

Continue reading here.

TV Ontario's Jack Layton Retrospective

The evolution of Jack Layton from Toronto City councillor to leader of Canada's New Democratic Party. A retrospective of appearances by Jack Layton on TVO.

Friday, August 26, 2011

This Hour Has 22 Minutes - Remembering Jack

Through the years, 22 Minutes had the privilege to feature Jack Layton many times. Here's a look back at some of our favourite moments with Jack.

Recycling junk into art in Iran

A 65 year-old Iranian artist has turned his 1,000sqm garden into the country's first open-air museum. He focuses his creative energy on using recyled material, and turning what was once considered junk into a shared artistic treasure. The museum is dedicated to the culture of Iran and blends together the country's history, modern art, and environmental appreciation. Al Jazeera's Dorsa Jabbari reports from Lavasan in northern Tehran.

Detainees killed by al-Gaddafi loyalists

Amnesty International:

Amnesty International has uncovered evidence that forces loyal to Colonel Mu’ammar al-Gaddafi have killed numerous detainees being held at two military camps in Tripoli on 23 and 24 August.

Eyewitness testimony from escaped detainees described how loyalist troops used grenades and gunfire on scores of prisoners at one camp, while guards at the other camp shot dead five detainees they were holding in solitary confinement.

“Loyalist forces in Libya must immediately stop such killings of captives, and both sides must commit to ensuring no harm comes to prisoners in their custody,” said Amnesty International.

“Even as Colonel al-Gaddafi is cornered, with an ICC warrant active for his arrest on charges of crimes against humanity, his troops continue their flagrant disregard for human life and international humanitarian law.”

It is a war crime for any party to a conflict to kill or torture prisoners.

Continue reading here.

Paul Ryan...legislation for sale?

Next time you're on E-Bay - browse for Congressmen - and at the top of the list you'll see Republican Paul Ryan - because he's currently up for sale to the highest bidder.

53 killed in Mexico casino attack

The Associated Press:

Two dozen gunmen burst into a casino in northern Mexico on Thursday, doused it with gasoline and started a fire that trapped gamblers inside, killing 53 people and injuring a dozen more, authorities said.

The fire at the Casino Royale in Monterrey, a city that has seen a surge in drug cartel-related violence, represented one of the deadliest attacks on an entertainment centre in Mexico since President Felipe Calderon launched an offensive against drug cartels in late 2006.

State police officials quoted survivors as saying armed men burst into the casino, apparently to rob it, and began dousing the premises with fuel from tanks they brought with them. The officials were not authorized to be quoted by name for security reasons. De la Garza said the liquid appeared to be gasoline.

With shouts and profanities, the attackers told the customers and employees to get out. But many terrified customers and employees fled further inside the building, where they died trapped amid the flames and thick smoke that soon billowed out of the building. Workers were removing bodies well into the night.

Monterrey Mayor Fernando Larrazabal said many of the bodies were found inside the casino's bathrooms, where employees and customers had locked themselves to escape the gunmen.

Continue reading here.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Outstanding UFO panel on CNN last night

An outstanding panel discussion was featured on CNN's The Joy Behar Show last night, which for once did not include a know-nothing hardcore skeptic, who usually talk nonsense, waste time and talk over or interrupt other panelists. Former British Ministry of Defence UFO investigator Nick Pope, former Arizona Governor Fife Symington III, filmmaker James Fox, and investigative reporter Leslie Kean joined anchor Don Lemon to discuss this fascinating and controversial topic.

Jack Layton memorial at Vancouver Art Gallery

Jack Layton was the leader of the New Democratic Party, Canada's Official Opposition party. He died on August 22, 2011 from cancer. He was 61. A public memorial was held on the same day, at the Vancouver Art Gallery / Robson Square. The crowd gathered to remember a likeable politician, as paradoxical as it sounds.

An explanation about the orange pop for those not familiar with Canadian politics. The NDP is Canada's left wing party, and as little as 10 years ago had little influence, with just over a dozen seats in parliament. Under Jack Layton's leadership, it steadily gained ground until the 2011 elections, when the NDP stunned the nation by winning 103 seats and becoming the Official Opposition party. That election was dubbed the "Orange Crush", with NDP's official color being orange. Jack Layton died three months after that historical achievement by his party. Jack Layton will have a rare state funeral (first for an opposition leader) on Saturday, August 27 in downtown Toronto at Roy Thomson Hall.

Gaddafi regime commits mass execution

Al Jazeera's correspondent James Bays visited a hospital in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, where he saw the bodies of 15 men - believed to be civilians killed in a mass execution. He had this report.

Corporate tax cuts for outsourcing jobs?

Karen Nussbaum, Working America joins Thom Hartmann. America's biggest transnational corporations have a secret they don't want you to know about. They are refusing to release just how many jobs they have created in the United States - and how many jobs they've created overseas - over fears that if the American people saw just how much outsourcing they've been doing - then they'd miss out on their tax breaks that corporation promise will help them create more jobs.

McCain, Lieberman, Graham and Gaddafi

Daily Kos:

John McCain has always wanted to bomb the shit out of Libya. Except for that time in 2009 when he and his BFFs, Lindsey Graham and Joe Lieberman, went to Tripoli to meet with Gaddafi and promised to help arm Libya.

Via Think Progress:

[E] xactly two years ago, Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) were in Tripoli meeting with the erratic leader and giving him assurances that relations between the nations were on the mend. According to a leaked August 2009 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks recounting the Senators’ junket, the neoconservative Connecticut Senator captured the dynamic of aligning with a brutal dictator:

Lieberman called Libya an important ally in the war on terrorism, noting that common enemies sometimes make better friends

The cable contains some other interesting nuggets about the senators' trip to Tripoli:

"We never would have guessed ten years ago that we would be sitting in Tripoli, being welcomed by a son of Muammar al-Qadhafi," remarked Senator Lieberman. He stated that the situation demonstrated that change is possible and expressed appreciation that Libya had kept its promises to give up its WMD program and renounce terrorism.

Two years ago, Libya was a model of reform, renouncing terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. But suddenly, this year, it became a horrible regime that should be bombed out of existence?

The senators weren't just there to make nice talk, though:

Senator McCain assured Muatassim that the United States wanted to provide Libya with the equipment it needs for its TRIPOLI 00000677 002.2 OF 002 security. He stated that he understood Libya's requests regarding the rehabilitation of its eight C130s (ref D) and pledged to see what he could do to move things forward in Congress. He encouraged Muatassim to keep in mind the long-term perspective of bilateral security engagement and to remember that small obstacles will emerge from time to time that can be overcome. He described the bilateral military relationship as strong and pointed to Libyan officer training at U.S. Command, Staff, and War colleges as some of the best programs for Libyan military participation.

This is extraordinary, given that McCain and his friends have spent the better part of the year shaking their angry fists at President Obama for not using McCain's patented bomb-bomb-bomb military strategy.

In February, Lieberman criticized the president as well:

Sen. Joe Lieberman, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, agreed on “State of the Union” that the United States should have come out early with a stronger response. “I wish we had spoken out much more clearly and early against the Gadhafi regime,” the Connecticut Independent said.

Now is the time to step up action against Gadhafi, said Lieberman, who endorsed giving weapons to citizens who are trying to form a new government.

Of course, it was only two years ago that Lieberman endorsed giving weapons to Gaddafi himself.

In March, Lieberman was at it again:

“I think if the world had acted earlier – you know, two or three weeks since the conflict turned bloody is not a long period of time, but in a conflict it’s a long period of time,” Lieberman said. “Gadhafi had such an advantage in terms of logistics, command-and-control weapons, that time helped him every day, while the world refused to make the decision."

Continue reading here.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is the SEC covering up Wall Street crimes?

An explosive new report in Rolling Stone magazine exposes how the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's largest banks and hedge funds, including AIG, Wells Fargo, Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and top Wall Street broker Bernard Madoff. Last week, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said an agency whistleblower had sent him a letter detailing the unlawful destruction of records detailing more than 9,000 information investigations. Democracy Now! speaks with Matt Taibbi, the political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine who broke this story in his latest article, "Is the SEC Covering Up Wall Street Crimes?"

The Republican plan to end Social Security?

How Republicans are cleverly turning social security into a soon to be phased out welfare program.

Stay classy, Christie Blatchford

So in the aftermath of Monday's passing of Jack Layton, Leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada and the Official Opposition, the National Post's Christie Blatchford wrote a column in which she laments and whines about the fact that the nation is mourning. She also saw fit to trash Jack's last letter and message to Canadians, in which Layton wrote while dying this past Saturday, "...we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done. My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world."

Blatchford wrote that Layton's letter was "vainglorious," full of "sophistry," and that "It's remarkable because it shows what a canny, relentless, thoroughly ambitious fellow Mr. Layton was. Even on Saturday, two days before he died, he managed to keep a gimlet eye on all the campaigns to come."

Blatchford has been ridiculing Layton since her Toronto Sun days, when he was a pioneering, pro-gay, pro-bike, jovial and progressive city councillor. I wouldn't be surprised how much Layton's rise has burned the right, and specifically people like Blatchford, who used to constantly belittle him. Layton's star rose far beyond anything they've ever had to contribute, or could contribute, to our civic life.

The bitterness Blatchford has revealed is deeply held. It is nothing more than the rage of a frustrated hack, who prognosticated nothing but humiliation and failure for Layton. So, having missed the mark so widely, what does she do? She does what she does best: reveal her true nature once more, with a nasty piece of vitriol which only illustrates how miserable she is, and always has been. Meanwhile in complete contrast, Layton displayed nothing but a complete generous, positive and compassionate goodness throughout his selfless existence and struggle for social justice.

Huntsman is sane, Republican base is crazy

The National Journal:

The collision between Jon Huntsman and Rick Perry over climate change and the evolution of human life threatens to widen the central rift in the Republican electoral coalition even as it helps each man sharpen his image in the party’s crowded 2012 presidential field.

The confrontation represents more of a gamble for Huntsman, the former Utah governor lagging in the polls, than it does for Texas Gov. Perry, who immediately catapulted into the race’s top tier after entering it in mid-August. Although an overwhelming majority of scientists agree that carbon pollution is contributing to global climate change, and virtually all accept that an evolutionary process of natural selection explains the emergence of human life, polls show that most Republican voters second Perry’s rejection of both beliefs.

“When you look at the people who will represent the core of these primaries, the doubts about global warming are gospel, and a more [religiously] traditionalist view about evolution is the prevailing point of view,” says Andrew Kohut, director of the non-partisan Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which studies public opinion.

Even so, Huntsman’s championing of science over faith and ideology offers him an opportunity to raise his profile with what his campaign increasingly acknowledges is his natural constituency: the overlapping circles of the party’s best-educated, least religiously devout, and moderate elements. At the same time, Perry’s staunch defense of unwavering hard-right positions on both questions helps him appeal to unvarnished social and economic conservatives as a “battle-tested conservative warrior,” as his campaign described him in a fundraising solicitation this week

Continue reading here.

Classic Jack, in action back in 2000

News footage of Toronto City Hall voting to send Toronto's garbage to Adams Mine in Northern Ontario. The vote came at the height of a massive road and rail blockade and bedlam at Toronto City Hall. The deal then collapsed in the face of a Native land claim, the threat of major civil disobedience and the fact that this crack pot garbage plan (to wash garbage with 360 million litres of ground water a year for 1000 years) carried too much liability for anyone to gamble on. Check out the great footage of Jack Layton as city councillor.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Surprising Europe: Making ends meet

African migrants in Europe have to deal with many obstacles when they are trying to meet the high expectations of their families. But the difficulty of life in Europe is not a message that people want to hear back in Africa.

Inside Gaddafi's compound

Libyan rebels are inside Colonel Gaddafi's Tripoli compound following a fierce fight. They now claim to control most of the capital three days after entering the city. Rebels are on the square where Colonel Gaddafi used to make speeches to the nation. But exactly where Gaddafi is, no one seems to know. Smoke has been rising over the Libyan capital throughout Tuesday as a result of pockets of fighting between the two sides. Casualties are said to be mounting, although electricity in Tripoli has been restored after hours of a blackout.

How Democrats win: Defending social safety net

Rick Perlstein, Opinion, Time:

Lyndon B. Johnson used to call “Democratic” speeches — LBJ’s shorthand for talking about which party gave the people Social Security, Medicare and the Tennessee Valley Authority and which one was willing to toss them over the side. LBJ gave such speeches all the time in 1964 — and he won 60% of the popular vote.

There are few or no historical instances in which saying clearly what you are for and what you are against makes Americans less divided. But there is plenty of evidence that attacking the wealthy has not made them more divided. After all, the man who said of his own day’s plutocrats, “I welcome their hatred,” also assembled the most enduring political coalition in U.S. history.

The Republicans will call it class warfare. Let them. Done right, economic populism cools the political climate. Just knowing that the people in power are willing to lie down on the tracks for them can make the middle much less frantic. Which makes America a better place. And which, incidentally, makes Democrats win.

Continue reading here.

Hartmann on Obama's lack of bold progressivism

Mr. President - you are running out of time. At this point - a double-dip recession is all but certain - and outside of CEO boardrooms and Wall Street, most Americans never recovered from the first recession. And to prevent things from getting worse, we hear that you're going to release a jobs bill next month. I - as well as most progressives - and - frankly - most Americans around the nation - - even the Tea Partiers - hope you go big.

Goldman CEO hires prominent defense lawyer


Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein has hired high-profile Washington defense attorney Reid Weingarten, according to a government source, as the Justice Department continues to investigate the bank.

Blankfein, 56, is in his sixth year at the helm of the largest U.S. investment bank, which has spent two years fending off accusations of conflicts of interest and fraud.

The move to retain Weingarten comes as investigations of Goldman and its role in the 2007-2009 financial crisis continue

Continue reading here.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Jack and Olivia: Their love story

"It was 1985 that we first met," Jack Layton says of Olivia Chow, pictured together in 1997. "We'd known of each other before that, but the moment of first attraction was at an auction we were doing for a hospital. I was the auctioneer."

The Toronto Star:

This story first appeared in the Star on Jan. 3, 1999.

Politics is what drives Jack Layton and Olivia Chow – and what brought them together. The Toronto city councillors met 13 years ago when she was running for school trustee and he for city council, both of them for the New Democratic Party. Layton, 48, grew up in Montreal and has a Ph.D. in political science. He teaches at the University of Toronto. Chow, 41, came to Canada in 1970 from Hong Kong and attended the Ontario College of Art and worked as a sculptor before getting involved in social activism and politics. She also teaches at George Brown College. The two live in downtown Toronto with Chow's mother and Layton's two children from a previous marriage.

JACK: It was 1985 that we first met. We'd known of each other before that, but the moment of first attraction was at an auction we were doing for a hospital, I was the auctioneer. It was for a largely Cantonese-speaking crowd, held at Village by the Grange, and Olivia was the translator.

I found myself doing this auction with this absolutely stunning, drop-dead gorgeous, amazing woman and realizing that she was also going to be running in the upcoming election. So we thought we should go and have lunch together, and talk about the campaign. We ended up campaigning together later, and smooching in the hallways of downtown Toronto apartment buildings.

It was definitely a love-at-first-sight situation, and we've had an absolutely wonderful, joyous life ever since.

Continue reading here.

Grieving Quebeckers bid farewell to ‘bon Jack’

The Globe and Mail:

Serge Ménard, a longtime Bloc MP who retired before the last election, said he is filled with sadness at the news.

“I think he was a great man. He was always in good humour. Every time he spoke. He was very authentic. He really loved Quebec, and the difference there was in Quebec from the rest of Canada. He saw a richness. At the beginning he was criticized for being too jovialiste but you know what? He was jovial, but he was also profound, ,” Mr. Ménard said.

“He was never a demagogue. He could express with clarity, could oppose conservative ideas with force, but it was never a vicious attack, always respectful. It's a great, great loss for the entire Canadian community.”

Quebec Premier Jean Charest said Mr. Layton “did politics differently…. Mr. Layton was a man who smiled at life and believed in hope. He didn't approach politics from the angle of lowest common denominator. He didn't seek to divide people. He believed in hope, and everything that unites us. I find he made a beautiful accomplishment. A beautiful monument for him and his movement.”

Continue reading here.

Jack Layton's farewell letter to Canadians

The Globe and Mail:

August 20, 2011

Toronto, Ontario

Dear Friends,

Tens of thousands of Canadians have written to me in recent weeks to wish me well. I want to thank each and every one of you for your thoughtful, inspiring and often beautiful notes, cards and gifts. Your spirit and love have lit up my home, my spirit, and my determination.

Unfortunately my treatment has not worked out as I hoped. So I am giving this letter to my partner Olivia to share with you in the circumstance in which I cannot continue.

I recommend that Hull-Aylmer MP Nycole Turmel continue her work as our interim leader until a permanent successor is elected.

I recommend the party hold a leadership vote as early as possible in the New Year, on approximately the same timelines as in 2003, so that our new leader has ample time to reconsolidate our team, renew our party and our program, and move forward towards the next election.

A few additional thoughts:

To other Canadians who are on journeys to defeat cancer and to live their lives, I say this: please don’t be discouraged that my own journey hasn’t gone as well as I had hoped. You must not lose your own hope. Treatments and therapies have never been better in the face of this disease. You have every reason to be optimistic, determined, and focused on the future. My only other advice is to cherish every moment with those you love at every stage of your journey, as I have done this summer.

To the members of my party: we’ve done remarkable things together in the past eight years. It has been a privilege to lead the New Democratic Party and I am most grateful for your confidence, your support, and the endless hours of volunteer commitment you have devoted to our cause. There will be those who will try to persuade you to give up our cause. But that cause is much bigger than any one leader. Answer them by recommitting with energy and determination to our work. Remember our proud history of social justice, universal health care, public pensions and making sure no one is left behind. Let’s continue to move forward. Let’s demonstrate in everything we do in the four years before us that we are ready to serve our beloved Canada as its next government.

To the members of our parliamentary caucus: I have been privileged to work with each and every one of you. Our caucus meetings were always the highlight of my week. It has been my role to ask a great deal from you. And now I am going to do so again. Canadians will be closely watching you in the months to come. Colleagues, I know you will make the tens of thousands of members of our party proud of you by demonstrating the same seamless teamwork and solidarity that has earned us the confidence of millions of Canadians in the recent election.

To my fellow Quebecers: On May 2nd, you made an historic decision. You decided that the way to replace Canada’s Conservative federal government with something better was by working together in partnership with progressive-minded Canadians across the country. You made the right decision then; it is still the right decision today; and it will be the right decision right through to the next election, when we will succeed, together. You have elected a superb team of New Democrats to Parliament. They are going to be doing remarkable things in the years to come to make this country better for us all.

To young Canadians: All my life I have worked to make things better. Hope and optimism have defined my political career, and I continue to be hopeful and optimistic about Canada. Young people have been a great source of inspiration for me. I have met and talked with so many of you about your dreams, your frustrations, and your ideas for change. More and more, you are engaging in politics because you want to change things for the better. Many of you have placed your trust in our party. As my time in political life draws to a close I want to share with you my belief in your power to change this country and this world. There are great challenges before you, from the overwhelming nature of climate change to the unfairness of an economy that excludes so many from our collective wealth, and the changes necessary to build a more inclusive and generous Canada. I believe in you. Your energy, your vision, your passion for justice are exactly what this country needs today. You need to be at the heart of our economy, our political life, and our plans for the present and the future.

And finally, to all Canadians: Canada is a great country, one of the hopes of the world. We can be a better one – a country of greater equality, justice, and opportunity. We can build a prosperous economy and a society that shares its benefits more fairly. We can look after our seniors. We can offer better futures for our children. We can do our part to save the world’s environment. We can restore our good name in the world. We can do all of these things because we finally have a party system at the national level where there are real choices; where your vote matters; where working for change can actually bring about change. In the months and years to come, New Democrats will put a compelling new alternative to you. My colleagues in our party are an impressive, committed team. Give them a careful hearing; consider the alternatives; and consider that we can be a better, fairer, more equal country by working together. Don’t let them tell you it can’t be done.

My friends, love is better than anger. Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we’ll change the world.

All my very best,

Jack Layton

The consummate New Democrat

The Toronto Star:

Layton noticed the French-speaking kids he played hockey with in Hudson did not enjoy the swimming pools and boat clubs alongside the richer English-speaking kids, having to swim in the polluted Ottawa River instead.

An oft-recounted anecdote that became even more prescient following the historic NDP breakthrough in Quebec in the spring election has a young Layton discovering in the rule book of the Hudson Yacht Club youth group that as junior commodore, he was allowed to invite as many guests as he wanted to the upcoming dance.

A hundred Francophone kids joined him at the dance that night and while what happened next is unclear – the Hudson Yacht Club disbanded the youth group, or Layton quit in protest to their disapproval – the story of the progressive little guy taking on the right-wing establishment begins.

Studying political science under philosopher Charles Taylor, Layton became enamoured with his theory of dialectics – the idea that change comes from the tension between opposing views.

“The reason I stick to a tough position on an issue is when I think there is still room for the conclusion to move. That’s from Taylor. He said it’s good to create debate because then you can create space within which new ideas can happen,” Layton told the Star in 1991.

“If you start with a compromise right at the beginning and no debate, you’re really only going with the status quo and buttering it up a little. No space is created for change to happen.”

Continue reading here.

Jack Layton 1950-2011


NDP Leader Jack Layton died Monday mere weeks after announcing that he was fighting a new form of cancer, and just months after leading his party to its most successful federal election result ever.

Layton was 61 years old.

The New Democratic Party issued a statement Monday on behalf of Layton's wife Olivia Chow, and his children Sarah and Michael Layton.

"We deeply regret to inform you that The Honourable Jack Layton, leader of the New Democratic Party of Canada, passed away at 4:45 a.m. today, Monday, Aug. 22," the statement said.

"He passed away peacefully at his home surrounded by family and loved ones."

In his final days, as it became clear that Canada's leader of the Official Opposition likely wouldn't survive his battle with cancer, he wrote a letter to be shared with Canadians after his death.

Various portions of the letter are addressed to Quebecers, to young Canadians, to members of his party, his caucus, and to party members and Canadians at large.

Continue reading here.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Americans want end to Cuba embargo

Poll after poll show a growing number of Americans want an end to the US embargo on Cuba. It has been in place for over half a century and though it was designed to bring down Fidel Castro, it is Cuba's citizens who have felt its impact most.

Gaddafi's eldest son surrenders

Ali Lagha, an opposition fighter in Tripoli, says he's inside the house of Mohammed Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's eldest son, who surrendered earlier.

How your tax dollars are spent

Department of Finance Canada:

• Canada Health Transfer (9 cents)
• Canada Revenue Agency (3 cents)
• Canada Social Transfer (4 cents)
• Children’s benefits (4 cents)
• Crown corporations (4 cents)
• Defence (8 cents)
• Employment Insurance benefits (8 cents)
• Other grants and contributions (14 cents)
• Other major transfers to other levels of government (8 cents)
• Other operations (11 cents)
• Public debt charges (11 cents)
• Public Safety (3 cents)
• Support to elderly (13 cents)

Rebels close in on Tripoli

As the rebels close in on Tripoli, Muammar Gaddafi, Libya's leader, spoke on State television. Gaddafi calls the rebels rats, bent on destroying the Libyan people, however, the rebels are calling it "zero hour" for a beleaguered Gaddafi. It is reported that Gaddafi's troops have abandoned their posts at the city's military airport, but it is understood the base is not in rebel hands.

Rick Perry's ethics record

The New York Times:

Mr. Perry leapt into the Republican presidential primary this month preceded by his reputation as a thoroughbred fund-raiser. But a review of Mr. Perry’s years in office reveals that one of his most potent fund-raising tools is the very government he heads.

Over three terms in office, Mr. Perry’s administration has doled out grants, tax breaks, contracts and appointments to hundreds of his most generous supporters and their businesses. And they have helped Mr. Perry raise more money than any politician in Texas history, donations that have periodically raised eyebrows but, thanks to loose campaign finance laws and a business-friendly political culture dominated in recent years by Republicans, have only fueled Mr. Perry’s ascent.

“Texas politics does have this amazing pay-to-play culture,” said Harold Cook, a Democratic political consultant.

Mr. Perry is not the first governor to have taken contributions from contractors or appointees to state commissions and boards, which oversee many of the agencies that in other states are controlled directly by the governor.

But because he has been in office more than a decade, he has had greater opportunity than any of his predecessors to stock the government with loyalists — he has appointed roughly 4,000 people to state posts — while enacting policies that have benefited allies and contributors.

And Mr. Perry has been much more aggressive than any past governor in soliciting money from them. According to a study last year by Texans for Public Justice, a watchdog organization, Mr. Perry has raised at least $17 million from more than 900 appointees or their spouses, roughly one dollar out of every five that he has raised as governor.

Continue reading here.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Is the SEC covering up Wall Street crimes?

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone:

A whistle-blower claims that over the past two decades, the agency has destroyed records of thousands of investigations, whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals.

Imagine a world in which a man who is repeatedly investigated for a string of serious crimes, but never prosecuted, has his slate wiped clean every time the cops fail to make a case. No more Lifetime channel specials where the murderer is unveiled after police stumble upon past intrigues in some old file – "Hey, chief, didja know this guy had two wives die falling down the stairs?" No more burglary sprees cracked when some sharp cop sees the same name pop up in one too many witness statements. This is a different world, one far friendlier to lawbreakers, where even the suspicion of wrongdoing gets wiped from the record.

That, it now appears, is exactly how the Securities and Exchange Commission has been treating the Wall Street criminals who cratered the global economy a few years back. For the past two decades, according to a whistle-blower at the SEC who recently came forward to Congress, the agency has been systematically destroying records of its preliminary investigations once they are closed. By whitewashing the files of some of the nation's worst financial criminals, the SEC has kept an entire generation of federal investigators in the dark about past inquiries into insider trading, fraud and market manipulation against companies like Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank and AIG. With a few strokes of the keyboard, the evidence gathered during thousands of investigations – "18,000 ... including Madoff," as one high-ranking SEC official put it during a panicked meeting about the destruction – has apparently disappeared forever into the wormhole of history.

Continue reading here.

Robert Reich on Countdown

Keith Olbermann discusses tax strategy with Robert Reich, professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley. In town halls across the nation, democratic leaders are using this month’s congressional recess to change the narrative on taxes. After new polling and town hall outbursts, can democrats run on an unabashed promise to raise taxes on the rich and corporations?

Canada Post profit $438 million, workers' pay cut

The Canadian Press:

Ottawa - Canada Post Group reported a profit of $439-million for 2010 on Wednesday, boosted by a one-time tax-related gain, as it saw revenue creep higher.

The results compared with a profit of $281 million in 2009.

Boosting the earnings for 2010 was a $136-million gain related to its tax bill.

Revenue totalled $7.45 billion, up from $7.31 billion the previous year.

Canada Post workers were legislated back to work earlier this year after the Crown corporation locked them out in a labour dispute that began with rotating strikes by the union.

The company noted that it has a $3.2-billion deficit in its pension plan that must be paid down. In 2010, Canada Post made $425 million in special payments to reduce that deficit.

In addition to its core Canada Post business, the organization also has several subsidiaries including courier company Purolator, logistics firm SCI Group and Innovapost, a joint venture with CGI Group.

Sanders exposes Wall Street oil speculation greed


Washington - Oil trading data that exposed the extensive positions speculators held in the run-up to record high prices in 2008 were intentionally leaked by a U.S. senator, sparking broader concern about industry confidentiality as Congress moves on Wall Street reform.

Senator Bernie Sanders, a staunch critic of oil speculators, leaked the information to a major newspaper in a move that has unsettled both regulators and Wall Street alike.

In a June 16 e-mail reviewed by Reuters, a senior policy adviser to Sanders discusses how his office received private data with the names and positions of traders and forwarded it exclusively to a Wall Street Journal reporter.

The e-mail, which also attaches two files with the data, was sent to Public Citizen's Tyson Slocum asking him to review it and speak with the newspaper about his observations.

In a statement from Sanders provided to Reuters, Sanders said he felt the data needed to be publicly aired.

"The CFTC has kept this information hidden from the American public for nearly three years," he said. "This is an outrage. The American people have a right to know exactly who caused gas prices to skyrocket in 2008 and who is causing them to spike today."

The leaked data contains long and short positions held by oil traders in 2008, the same year that oil prices spiked to $147 a barrel. Critics at the time accused oil speculators of driving up prices, leading lawmakers to later insert a provision into the Dodd-Frank Wall Street overhaul law compelling the CFTC to place stricter limits on how many commodity contracts any one trader can control.

Among the kinds of traders accused of excessive speculation included passive long investors such as pension funds, which often seek exposure to commodities markets indirectly by going through an intermediary swap dealer such as such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

The data that was leaked to the Wall Street Journal was compiled by the CFTC in 2008 during a "special call" in which the agency sought crude oil position data from swap dealers so they could piece together market activity occurring both on and off the exchange, people familiar with the matter said.

Continue reading here.

Tony Clement's poor ethics, pandering

Yet another example of Tony Clement's totally questionable judgment. In August 2008 (on the eve of the election) he starred in a commercial for Barry Young, a Muskoka cleaning product salesman. He then appointed him to the tourism board board. Young then received three untendered contracts.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ford digs himself into a subway hole

Martin Regg Cohn, Opinion, The Toronto Star:

The last time he swaggered into Dalton McGuinty’s office, Rob Ford was at the top of his game — lording it over the premier, wearing his fresh electoral mandate like a wrestler’s prize belt. After a mere 25 minutes, the mayor emerged triumphant last December to declare he’d remake Toronto’s subway system in his own image.

Now, Ford has returned to Queen’s Park showing his tummy to a Liberal premier who appears, eight months later, to have nine lives in the opinion polls. His swagger gone, the mayor is asking for a modest “advance” to dig him out of a financial hole so he can start tunnelling the Sheppard subway extension.

Bereft of his once-shimmering prize belt, Ford looks increasingly like a mayor with no clothes — but for the cap in his hand.

Speaking in public later, both men were muted and measured. No one wants to be seen playing politics at the expense of Toronto’s transit paralysis.

But their body language spoke volumes.

Ford hunkered down as he pressed past a crush of reporters. Standing awkwardly before a microphone, he indulged in a strange soliloquy by asking himself questions and then not answering them.

“I know the questions you’re going to ask me about what we talked about, so I’ll answer your questions before you ask about what we talked about,” Ford declared pre-emptively, blinking nervously.

He didn’t, really. Nor did he put to rest the talk of bad blood between them, having once threatened, on talk radio, to unleash “Ford Nation” upon the premier.

A contrite Ford mumbled awkwardly that he’d known McGuinty “a long time,” but then babbled, unprompted: “I don’t have a great friendship because I’ve never known him that well.”

Continue reading here.

Republican Senator Tom Coburn is a moron

The Huffington Post:

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) blasted Congress for America's financial troubles and predicted that the debt ceiling agreement would unravel this fall, calling his congressional colleagues "career elitists" and "cowards" at an event in Langley, Oklahoma on Tuesday.

"It's just a good thing I can't pack a gun on the Senate floor," Coburn said, according to the Tulsa World.

The remark comes just weeks after Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) returned to Congress to vote in favor of raising the nation's debt ceiling, seven months after she was shot in the head by a gunman in Tucson, Ariz.

In response to a man who asked whether President Barack Obama "wants to destroy America," Coburn also managed to both defend and insult the president, calling him a "very bright" man who loves his country but also someone who "as an African-American male," received "tremendous advantage" from government programs.

Obama's "intent is not to destroy, his intent is to create dependency because it worked so well for him," Coburn said.

Continue reading here.

Rick Perry vs George W. Bush

Texas Governor Rick Perry is being compared to former Texas Governor and president George Bush. Is there a feud between the two camps? Cenk Uygur breaks down a Fox News clip and shares his thoughts.

Warren moves toward challenging Brown

The Wall Street Journal:

Elizabeth Warren, who got the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau off the ground and ready for its official launch, has been the subject of speculation on whether she’ll try to unseat Republican Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts next year.

On Thursday, the Democrat launched an exploratory committee and a campaign website, moving her closer to taking on Mr. Brown.

Ms. Warren, who recently returned to Massachusetts after setting up the consumer agency, has spent time meeting with grassroots activists—along with their friends and neighbors—as well as local Democratic officials across the state to introduce herself and discuss their concerns, an individual close to her said on Thursday.

Earlier this week, the liberal organization Progressive Change Campaign Committee announced it had already raised $100,000 for Ms. Warren.

Ms. Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, was passed over for the top spot at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau earlier this summer after drawing sharp criticism from Republicans, who weren’t expected to support her in a Senate confirmation vote. The consumer agency opened its doors on July 21, and Ms. Warren stepped down on Aug. 1.

Mr. Brown, who has amassed $10 million for his re-election campaign and has strong support within the Bay State, won the seat in a special election last year after the death of liberal icon Sen. Edward Kennedy.

Former Reagan aide: "Rick Perry is an idiot"

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Jailing undocumented immigrants is big business

More information here.

Conservatives, government officials misled AG

The Hill Times:

Parliament Hill — Newly unearthed documents about $50-million in lavish G8 spending for projects in Treasury Board President Tony Clement’s riding disclose Mr. Clement was up to his eyeballs in the planning as towns and cities vied for the money and that federal bureaucrats may have misled federal auditors about their role.

The documents, obtained by the federal NDP under Ontario’s Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, disclosed that Mr. Clement (Parry Sound-Muskoka, Ont.), Industry Minister last year when the summit of G8 leaders was held in Huntsville, Ont., deep in wealthy Muskoka cottage country in the heart of Mr. Clement’s riding, show that Mr. Clement himself chaired a “Local Area Leadership Group Committee” made up of local mayors and councillors who wanted a share of the federal largesse.

Minutes of one of the group’s earlier meetings, held on Sept. 12, 2008, well before the government presented Parliament with what former Auditor General Sheila Fraser criticized as a misleading request to authorize the spending, shows a senior federal official from the Summit Management Office was present, as well as Joseph Klein, manager of the Deerhurst Resort where the leaders met and stayed and which benefited indirectly from highway and infrastructure upgrades for the event.

The documents also show that Cheryl Forth, a senior official with Fednor, the northern Ontario development agency Mr. Clement oversees in Cabinet, was also involved in helping local communities develop requests for funding, along with another senior Fednor official.

But after Ms. Fraser’s auditors went through the records they could locate about spending criteria for the projects and information about how the decisions were made, her report, which she held back last April until after the May 2 federal election, said departmental officials told the auditors they had no information about project selection because they were not involved at those early stages.

Continue reading here.