Archive for March, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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)
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.