Archive for March, 2011
Federal Election and Reduced Blog
Posted by politeching in Canada, Politics on March 30, 2011
I will be busy campaigning for the Pirate Party of Canada during the upcoming Federal Election. As a result, I won’t be blogging as much on this site until the election is done. I would like to encourage everybody to check out Pirate Party of Canada’s website and each of the Candidate’s site.
PMO Scandal – Carson’s E-mail Says He Spoke With Harper and Things Were Not Going to Slow Down
Posted by politeching in Canada, Politics on March 20, 2011
The latest scandal besetting the Prime Minister Office (PMO) involved a former top advisor of Harper – Bruce Carson. Carson was lobbying on behalf of an Ottawa company. He allegedly lobbied with Indian Affairs Minister on behalf of H2O Pro to sell water filters to First Nation reserves. APTN’s (Aboriginal People Television Network) Jorge Barrera and freelance reporter Kenneth Jackson were asking the PMO for comments and was shocked at the speed at which Harper called in the RCMP. It forced them to air the news one week ahead of the March 25 scheduled air date. The allegations claimed that Carson contacted Harper and Indian Affairs ministers to obtain contracts for H20 Pro. Carson’s Aug. 6, 2010 e-mail to H2O Pro’s Patrick Hill, obtained by APTN shows Carson saying:
“I spoke with the PM last [night] and with [Assembly of First Nations national Chief Shawn] Atleo—the movement of John Duncan to INAC does not slow anything down,” wrote Mr. Carson
Carson was referring to the ongoing cabinet reshuffling where MP Chuck Strahl of Indian Affairs was being replaced by John Duncan. In an interview with APTN later, Carson claimed he spoked with someone else.
Carson was also said to be involved with oil lobbyist – Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. But in light of the latest allegation, the oil and gas industry is distancing itself from Carson saying he is not on their payroll.
Carson was a key individual driving a controversial government and industry communications strategy to boost the image of Alberta’s oilsands sector. A recently released briefing note prepared by bureaucrats in the federal government highlighted his presence at a special meeting last year between senior officials from the federal and Alberta governments as well as the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, an industry lobby group, Postmedia News reported last week. (Montreal Gazette)
Carson left the Prime Minister’s office in 2009. It is illegal for Senior staffers to lobby government officials on behalf of their clients for five years after leaving their office. Long before becoming Harper’s top advisor, Carson was disbarred for forging a client’s signature on a document transferring a cheque to him. A year after being disbarred, he was again charged with “theft and forgery”, which landed him in jail.
E-mail Leak of Alleged Bank of America Fraud
Posted by politeching in Politics, World on March 14, 2011
Deepsouthdoug at dailykos have published initial batch of Bank of America leaks that shows alleged fraud.
zerohedge blogged about the leak:
this appears to be a concerted effort from the ground up to hide foreclosure data from auditors and the Fed in order to obtain select preferential treatment in a variety of housing related axes, in many instances to accelerate foreclosures. As the whistleblower summarizes: “Balboa Insurance/Countrywide knowingly hiding foreclosure information from federal auditors during the federal takeovers of IndyMac Federal (a subsidiary of OneWest) and Aurora Loan Services (a subsidiary of Lehman Bros Holdings), falsifying loan documentation in order to proceed with foreclosures by fixing letter cycles in the system, reporting incorrect volumes to all of their lenders and to the federal auditors to avoid fines for falling behind on Loan Modifications, purposefully and knowingly adjusting premiums for REO insurance for their corporate clients while denying forebearances for individual borrowers, etc, etc, etc.
A New Innovation Center for Progress; Nuclear Debate
Posted by politeching in Better Government, Canada, Economy, Politics, Science on March 13, 2011
I’ve been following the nuclear debate online. I have not blogged anything about Japan’s nuclear plant crisis because there is not enough information coming out (as far as the plant’s condition is concern). Some people on both sides of the nuclear debate have wasted no time in using the crisis to express their nuclear sentiments. By “some” I mean a few people, not all of the pro or anti nuclear people. Some pro side were quick to say “nah it’s safe”. I think that is a little premature for an ongoing development. Some anti people were quick to say “see that’s why there should be no nuclear ever”.
For me, transparency should be mandatory in nuclear industry. So when Japan was covering up their minor nuclear mishaps not too long ago, I was really worried. Because that’s how things get out of hands. They should acknowledge the problem and take care of it head on, leaving no stone unturned. Covering up will just increase the problem exponentially. I am not saying the current crisis have anything to do with their previous non-transparency. Current unconfirmed report indicates tsunami might have swept their backup generator away.
When Harper fired Linda Keen of CNSC, I was equally concern and worried. Sure you can say there is 1 in a million chance that there will be a nuclear accident. But our nuclear industry are operated with very little tolerance for risk. And it should stay that way. Political distractions should play no role in nuclear safety. So Rick Mercer hits the bulls eye with his criticism of Gary Lunn and Harper’s handling of Chalk River’s NRU reactor.
Another troubling action by Harper is keeping the privatization of AECL in limbo for so long. So AECL is essentially prohibited from signing new contracts and making new commitments until they sell AECL off. And that have been going on for so long. There are countries who are interested in signing contract with AECL. But they won’t be able to, due to the freeze arising out of the prolonged government’s inaction. An enterprise that can’t conduct business for few days would lose a lot of money. AECL not being able to conduct business for months, possibly half a year to a year, will surely see its losses mounts. Next time Harper wants to proclaim that there are no incoming revenue at AECL, he should look down his feet and step off AECL’s fingers and let them move again. No wonder some industry insider is claiming that Harper is letting AECL or the nuclear industry “die by thousand cuts”. Harper’s officials claimed that AECL is a sink hole. That will just be a self fulfilling prophesy of increasing magnitude the longer he prevents AECL from conducting its business.
We need to establish an independent Scientific Research Agency. This agency will be independent and free from political interference. Part of AECL’s problem is the constant re-organization and selling off part by part to private organizations. New election, new party, new political appointee at the top, new re-organization. Medical isotope distribution sold off to private company Nordion under Mulroney. In my personal opinion, that took away a potentially lucrative income source for AECL. So it was instead relegated to just producing the isotopes with Nordion distributing them and profiting from them. AECL should at least have a decent share of the profit.
A new scientific institution should be independent and not have the restriction of a Crown Corporation. Which means they will not be restricted from seeking external funding. So private individual can donate for research towards cancer cure. Different funding streams could be setup so that people can target where they want their donations to go to. Such institutions could also coordinate various ongoing research and allows more efficient sharing and exchange of results from their studies. And provide better coordination and gathering of resources to jointly work toward similar research goal (whether it is looking for cures, clean energy sources or future technologies). Everything, especially funding and expenses, would be transparent as all government agencies should be. Independent researchers from different universities and institution under the umbrella of this agency will be preferable over the creation of a new big bureaucracy. A research laboratory with reactors, facilities and equipments will be maintained and available for scientist to use.
If we want to live in a progressive society, status quo or paralysis is not an option. Those two will only lead to stagnation and regression. We must foster continuous innovations for the betterment of our society.
New Video Campaign Against WI Gov. Walker’s Supporter – Koch Brothers
Posted by politeching in Politics, World on March 12, 2011
Support for campaign against Wisconsin’s governor Scott Walker is increasing after he forced a bill that would remove worker’s bargaining rights. It was seen as an attempt to eliminate worker’s union. Following that, campaigns were launched against the governor’s supporters and campaign contributors, such as Koch Brothers and M&I bank. Wisconsin have similar campaign contribution rule as Canada, where corporations are not allowed to make direct campaign contributions. But just like Canada, corporations could easily circumvent that law by having their executives, relatives and friends make contributions as an individual. Campaign donations are also tax deductible so I am sure those relatives and friends would not mind taking part. Election Canada explicitly prohibit such action. In M&I bank case, Huffington Post reports that:
Top executives at M&I Bank have long been boosters of Walker. M&I Chief Executive Dennis Kuester and his wife gave $20,000 to Walker in recent years. When you package individual and PAC contributions by employers, M&I is number one — at $57,000 dollars. The firm apparently uses a conduit to bundle much of its money to Walker.
The bank have been forced to quickly closed their door for the day:
… a group of firefighter and consumers stopped back in at the bank to make a few transactions. One by one they closed their accounts and withdrew their life savings, totaling approximately $190,000. After the last customer left, the bank quickly closed its doors, just in case the spontaneous “Move Your Money” moment caught fire.
I came across this campaign ad today. It outlines allegations of Koch Brothers “Buying Our Democracy”, by spending millions to fund the Tea Party, Walker and other campaigns. (h/t “Saskboy’s Abandoned Stuff” blog ).
Updated: Photo Diary of Wisconsin Rally @ DailyKos (h/t Kodiak54)
Twitter Ordered to Give Up User’s Info for Wikileaks Probe
Posted by politeching in Politics, Technology on March 12, 2011
A judge have ruled that Twitter must give up some of their user’s information to the U.S. government as part of their Wikileaks probe. This pertains to the secret court order mentioned in my previous blog – Patriot Act Being Used to Crackdown on Wikileak’s Supporters. The lawyers of some of these users are vowing to appeal.
Steven Aftergood, who works on government secrecy policy for the Federation of American Scientists, said the government’s aggressive pursuit of the Twitter accounts reflects one of two possibilities.
“Either the government is being extremely diligent in crossing every ‘t’ and dotting every ‘i’. Or the other possibility is that they have no case whatsoever and they’re tallying up all conceivable leads,” he said. “The information they’re going to get from Twitter is indirect evidence at best.”
The same Virginia magistrate judge, Theresa Carroll Buchanan, was also the one who issued the original order, wherein Twitter was asked to keep the handover of user’s information secret.
Buchanan also rejected a request that would have required the government to disclose whether it sought similar records from other social networking sites like Facebook.
Update: She ruled that user have no expectation of privacy since they shared their information with Twitter. Those information being sought by the government includes:
full contact details for the accounts (phone numbers and addresses), IP addresses used to access the accounts, connection records (“records of session times and durations”) and data transfer information, such as the size of data file sent to someone else and the destination IP.
…She further ruled that the request did not violate the account holder’s First Amendment rights since the order did not seek to control their speech or their associations. Nor did it violate the Fourth Amendment because the accountholders did not have a reasonable expectation of privacy over subscriber information they freely provided to Twitter. (ars technica)
Fomenting Violence. Egyptian’s Beware.
Posted by politeching in Egypt 2011, Politics on March 9, 2011
I have warned that post-revolution Egypt could fall victim to instigated violence. There are signs that it has started. Christians and Muslims are fighting over unfounded rumours. Anyone who want to start an ethnic clash just needs to start a rumour to rile ethnic tensions. What is happening right now in Egypt is that rumours are swirling around that
The Muslims are planning to say Friday prayers at the site of the burned church! The Christians are kidnapping veiled women in the slum over there!
And voila, they are now fighting each other. Ethnic violence have erupted and paranoia and mistrust ruled the day. Sigh. Spirit of the protest should be carried on now more than ever.
Bradley Manning Charged with ‘Aiding the Enemy’, A Death Penalty Offence
Posted by politeching in Politics, World on March 7, 2011
The U.S. government have charged Bradley Manning with “Aiding the Enemy”. A charge that is punishable by death. But in what could be an attempt to soften possible public outcry, the prosecutor have notified the defense that they won’t be seeking the death penalty. Slashdot quoted the charges being laid against Bradley Manning as:
…the Uniform Code of Military Justice, include wrongfully causing intelligence to be published on the Internet, knowing that it will be accessed by the enemy, that US officials have asserted could put soldiers and civilians at risk.
Note the bolded phrase “knowing…”. Based on alleged chat log of Bradley Manning, there is no indication that he intended to help any enemy. He allegedly leaked a video that shows civilians being shot. Al Jazeera provided the whole video with commentary from Julian Assange and a military analyst. Here’s a quick recap of the video’s content. Warning: Some might find the event disturbing. The early part of the video shows Reuters reporter with a camera getting shot. The pilot thought that the camera was an RPG. There was a wounded person getting up with no weapon on hand. The pilot could be heard encouraging the wounded person to just pick up a weapon, seemingly eager to shoot at the person. Later part of the video shows the wounded being moved into a van. And the pilot eagerly asking to engage. The van turns out to have children in them. After being informed by the ground troops that childrens were shot, the pilot seems unrepentant and said that’s what you get for bringing children to the battle. Next day, the same helicopter saw an armed person going into a building. They then asked for permission to engage. The video also shows a civilian going into the building, and a pedestrian walking by. But they went ahead and blew up the building and most likely the pedestrian passing by.
Some might argue that the pilot needs to be given the benefit of the doubt, considering the tense situation they were in. However, the video does highlight a lax rule of engagement. There does not seem to be consideration for civilian casualty in an urban area.
There is still another video from Afghanistan supposedly showing civilian casualties. Wikileaks have not released that video yet. It took Wikileaks three months to decrypt the Iraq video, which the chat log said was never really encrypted. But the Afghanistan video was encrypted with AES-256 and a 14 characters password. It is said to show awful scene, albeit not as damning as the Iraq’s video.
There were no indication that Bradley Manning wanted to aid the Taliban or Al Qaeda. Instead, the chat log that is being attributed to Bradley shows a pained man whose conscience is giving him grief. The person in the chat expressed his intent as:
>…well, it was forwarded to WL
>and god knows what happens now
>hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms
>if not… than we’re doomed
>as a species
>i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens
>the reaction to the video gave me immense hope… CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed… Twitter exploded…
>people who saw, knew there was something wrong
>i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public
And on how he became disillusioned: When he saw Iraqi political critics of their Prime Minister being arrested. He was excited to report his findings to a U.S. officer that the detainees were innocent. But the officer asked him to shut up and find ways to help Iraqi police find more detainees.
i had always questioned the things worked, and investigated to find the truth… but that was a point where i was a *part* of something… i was actively involved in something that i was completely against…
When Lamo, the hacker, says he is a spy. He responded:
i couldn’t be a spy…spies dont post things up for the world to see
Wired magazine published the original log attributing it to Bradley Manning. The hacker that Bradley Manning confide in had worked with Wired magazine before.
It is not clear what enemy Bradley was allegedly aiding. But some people have speculated that U.S. might be planning to label Wikileaks’ Julian Assange as an Enemy. This will clearly be against the intent of a law meant to punish spies.
David House, a researcher at MIT is comparing Obama’s administration treatment of Bradley Manning to Nixon’s treatment of Daniel Ellsberg. According to House:
the “aiding the enemy” charge was similar to Richard Nixon’s heavy-handed treatment of Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon Papers. Nixon called Ellsberg “the most dangerous man in America” and said he was “providing aid and comfort to the enemy”.
“Today we see the Obama administration continuing the legacy Nixon started by declaring whistleblowers as enemies of the state. It is a sad and dangerous day for transparency advocates everywhere,” House said.
Daniel Ellsberg released the Pentagon Papers back in 1971. It revealed government’s cover-up in the Vietnam war. It is now considered as the leak that stopped the Vietnam war. The leak also lead Nixon to create the covert White House Unit called the “Plumbers”. They did various break-ins to find Ellsberg files, including Ellsberg’s Psychiatrist office. Nixon was trying to find something he could use to destroy Ellsberg. The “Plumber” went on to commit other crimes including the infamous Watergate break-in that ended Nixon’s presidency.
The Obama’s administration all out campaign against Wikileaks and Bradley Manning is evoking memory of Nixon’s desperate attempt to stop Ellsberg’s leak back then. At the height of the leak, Nixon was quoted as saying:
“We’ve got a countergovernment here and we’ve got to fight it. I don’t give a damn how it’s done. Do whatever has to be done to stop those leaks.… I don’t want to be told why it can’t be done.”
Canada’s New Multi-Party Movement – Leadnow.ca
Posted by politeching in Canada, Politics on March 6, 2011
A new movement have been launched on March 3rd called Leadnow.ca. Their slogan is “people powered change”. From its website:
Leadnow brings generations of Canadians together to take action for our future and hold politicians accountable.
We’re building an independent community that works together to help set the political agenda, take effective action on important issues, and shift elections.
I wish them luck and success in their endeavour.
Our democratic values could use some much needed boost as they are increasingly being eroded by partisan politicians. The politicians are increasingly impervious to people’s demands. More people are feeling alienated and are starting to tune out from the electoral process. People’s apathy are not because they don’t care. Instead, it is because they feel powerless and had resigned themselves to the fact that one partisan party is not more accountable than the other.
Speaking of citizen’s movement, here is a video from the ongoing Wisconsin protest where the crowd broke out in songs. The protesters sang the Les Misérables song “Do you hear the people sing?”, also called the people’s song. The video is from February 27, 2011.
The original song with lyrics:
Recommend this post (progressivebloggers.ca)
Egyptians Stormed Security Service, Posting Documents Online
Posted by politeching in Egypt 2011 on March 6, 2011
Egyptians stormed their State Security Intelligence (SSI) and have started posting images of the documents online. Their security service Amn Dawla was responsible for countless atrocities and torture. Some of the people tortured under the U.S. rendition program were said to have been sent to Egypt’s SSI. A call went out via Facebook for the people to surround the SSI buildings throughout Egypt. This has lead to people actually storming the buildings and trying to uncover the documents themselves.
There is also a tweet about room with secret videos of Gulf Royal Personalities during their Egyptian’s summer escapade. Wikileaks also mentioned something about sex tapes. One picture shows an FBI logo on what appears to be a document cover.
Wikileaks is encouraging Egyptians not to throw away the shredded documents as they might be able to reconstruct them. People are refusing to leave the SSI office for fear that more documents will be shredded.
One of the document allegedly shows the tool used by SSI to hack into people’s Skype account. They claimed that the tool was from the German firm Gamma Group. Obviously I can’t verify the veracity of those claims.
Some youtube videos have also started to surface.
Along with pictures of the cells inside the SS.
There is also pictures of files. Apparently each file is for one person.
Hope they don’t randomly post pictures of private individual’s files or videos online.
Global voices’ blog has links to several videos. They also mentioned a tweet claiming that one of the findings shows SSI’s involvement in the bombing of Two Saint’s Church.