Mainstream News Articles of interest
- Published on Tuesday, 08 July 2014 15:00
- Written by editor
Governments must abide by the Constitution even if the costs are high, constitutional scholar saysBy Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun July 5, 2014
The dispute between B.C.’s teachers and their employer is complicated by two B.C. Supreme Court decisions that found the provincial government violated teachers’ constitutional rights more than a decade ago when it removed rules about class size and class composition from the teachers’ contract.
Teachers have been on strike since June 17, after 16 months of failed negotiations, and there is no end in sight. Although the two sides have moved closer on wages (the government is offering seven per cent over six years; the BCTF wants eight per cent over five years), the implications of this court case keep the two sides far apart.
In 2002, the B.C. government removed clauses guaranteeing teachers’ working conditions from their contract and legislated a prohibition from bargaining over those same issues. These measures were found by B.C. Supreme Court Justice Susan Griffin to have violated the teachers’ constitutional right to freedom of association.
But what exactly is freedom of association?
“A very trite example is what if you said to people you’re allowed to play baseball, but not allowed to form a team. The difference between being able to play baseball and being able to form a team is your freedom of association. Anytime you want to do something with other people, freedom of association comes into play,” said Joel Bakan, University of British Columbia law professor and a constitutional law scholar.
It may seem a stretch, but Canadian courts have determined that freedom of association includes the right for a union to collectively bargain with an employer over working conditions.
“The freedom of workers to associate has long been recognized internationally and in Canada as an important aspect of a fair and democratic society,” Griffin said in her January 2014 ruling. “Collective action by workers helps protect individuals from unfairness in one of the most fundamental aspects of their lives, their employment.”
The Canadian Constitution, the highest law in the country, includes the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees freedom of association.
“Part of what it means to be part of Canada is that we follow the Constitution of the country,” Bakan said. “One of the things that makes Canada different from what happened in Yugoslavia when it split apart or what’s happening in Ukraine today is that we’re governed by the rule of law. Our Constitution is the supreme law of the nation and the provinces and the federal government must comply with it.”
And if the government doesn’t comply?
“You can’t put them in jail, but what I can say is that if provinces start not complying with it and thumbing their noses at court decisions that say they must, then I think we are in serious trouble as a nation,” Bakan said.
In 2011, Griffin gave the government a year to rectify the unconstitutional legislation. After a year, the government enacted legislation that the judge called “virtually identical” to the legislation she had already ruled violated the teachers’ rights. Griffin’s second ruling also found that the government had bargained in bad faith in 2012, hoping to provoke a strike to increase support for imposing legislation.
The provincial government appealed that decision and the case is scheduled to be heard in the B.C. Court of Appeal in October.
Despite the two B.C. Supreme Court rulings, the government is not flouting the law at this point, because it is still within its legal right to appeal up to the country’s highest court, which is likely.
While the case may take several more years to settle, the process and time is worth it to make sure the decision is the right one and is backed up by the country’s highest court, advocates on both sides say.
- Published on Monday, 09 June 2014 14:00
- Written by editor
Time was when we had to wait weeks, even months for each new abuse of power by the Harper government. Now they arrive by the day, sometimes two and three at a time. Of late we’ve been treated to:
- The prostitution bill. The Supreme Court having tossed out the old laws as a violation of prostitutes’ constitutional right not to be beaten or murdered (I paraphrase), it was expected the government would opt for the “Nordic model,” criminalizing the purchase of sex rather than the sale, as a replacement — a contentious but tenable response to the Court’s decision. It was not expected it would, in effect, fling the ruling back in the Court’s face. Not content with leaving the impugned provisions, but for a few cosmetic changes, essentially intact, the government imposed new restrictions, for example banning prostitutes from advertising: not just in violation of the Constitution, it would seem, but in defiance of it. The bill is written as if calculated to provoke another confrontation with the Court, ideally in time for the next election.
- The cyberbullying bill. At least, that’s what it was sold as: legislation making it a crime to post revealing images of someone online without their consent, for which the government deserves praise. But nothing comes free with this gang. Tacked onto the bill is a number of other unrelated measures — among others, one that would make it easier for police and other authorities to obtain customers’ personal data from Internet and telephone providers, without a warrant — easier that is, than it already is, which is plenty.
- The new privacy commissioner. Of all the people the government might have picked to replace the outgoing commissioner, it chose a top lawyer in the Department of Justice, known for his work on security and public safety issues: exactly the sort of person the privacy commissioner is supposed to keep tabs on. Worse, of six people on the selection committee’s short-list, Daniel Therrien placed sixth. The committee might as well not have bothered.
- The F-35 contract. In the wake of the auditor general’s findings that it had deliberately understated the true costs of the sole-source purchase of 65 “next generation” fighter jets — initially presented as costing just $9-billion, the correct figure, operating costs included, is now estimated at $45-billion — and in the face of growing doubts about the mission, specifications and performance of the plane, the government agreed to review the purchase, perhaps even open it up to competitive bidding. It is now reported, 18 months later, that the review will recommend buying the same plane, on the same terms — without competition.
- Published on Tuesday, 03 June 2014 17:00
- Written by editor
Published time: May 27, 2014 15:55Edited time: May 27, 2014 16:49 Get short URL
TagsAnonymous, Conflict, Court, Crime, FBI,Hacking, Law, Security, USA
After aiding the infiltration of numerous corporate networks and then switching sides to help the FBI thwart the hacktivist group Anonymous, Hector Xavier Monsegur has been sentenced to time served followed by one year of supervised release.
According to Yahoo News, prosecutors in New York on Tuesday officially recounted Monsuegur’s cooperation with the federal government, explaining that the hacker should be “rewarded with leniency” for working with the FBI to stop cyberattacks by Anonymous and its offshoot LulzSec.
Although Monsegur faced...
- Published on Tuesday, 08 April 2014 13:00
- Written by editor
By DAVID BARSTOW
Published: April 20, 2008
In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.
The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.
To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.
Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.
The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.
Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.
Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.
Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.
In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.
- Published on Friday, 04 April 2014 13:40
- Written by editor
While politicians in Ottawa still can’t decide who is in the middle class, a new analysis suggests wealth is increasingly gravitating to the very top.
The report by the left-leaning Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives shows that the country’s 86 richest individuals and families – or 0.002 per cent of the total population – are getting richer and have now accumulated as much wealth as the country’s poorest 11.4 million.
That’s more than in 1999, when the richest 86 had as much money as the poorest 10.1 million, according to the report, to be released Thursday.
The point of the exercise, says economist and author David Macdonald, who used Statistics Canada data and research from Canadian Business magazine, is to show that if income inequality is a policy and social justice concern – wealth inequality is worse.
In fact, the super-rich list of Canadian residents has little to do with income in the traditional sense, he said. None of the 86 are company CEOs – often the poster children of excess for their unseemly salaries and bonuses. Instead, the ones on the list are there by virtue of being company founders or related to company founders.
The super-rich have gotten there by creating and trading assets, whether companies, real estate or securities.
“We often focus on income inequality but that’s a socialist paradise compared to wealth inequality,” said Macdonald.
“The top 20 per cent only get half of all the income, but in terms of wealth inequality, the top 20 per cent have 70 per cent of all wealth. It’s much more extreme and the concern is as you accumulate all this wealth, this wealth starts to buy you political power.”
- Published on Wednesday, 19 March 2014 14:20
- Written by editor
After running the numbers on a set of four equations representing human society, a team of NASA-funded mathematicians has come to the grim conclusion that the utter collapse of human civilization will be “difficult to avoid.”
The exact scenario may vary, but in the coming decades humanity is essentially doomed to some variant of “Elites” consuming too much, “resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.”
That is, unless civilization is ready for one of two “major policy changes”: inequality must be “greatly reduced” or population growth must be “strictly controlled.”
The apocalyptic pronouncements, set to be published in an upcoming edition ofEcological Economics, come courtesy of a U.S. team led by applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei and funded in part by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
The otherwise obscure report was first made public in a recent column in Britain’s The Guardian newspaper in which environment writer Nafeez Ahmed warned that it constituted a “highly credible wake-up call” and declared that its menu of suggested policy changes were “required immediately.”
In the days since, environmentalists, socialists, hard-line U.S. Republicans and even survivalists have taken up the banner of the 32-page study.
Derrick O’Keefe, the Vancouver-based former editor of Rabble.ca, wrote in a Tuesday Twitter post that “this NASA-funded study makes case that future is socialism or extinction.” At about the same time, an anonymous commenter on M4Carbine.net declared “this is why I keep buying ammo.”
The study starts by reducing human civilization into four easy-to-toggle factors: Elites, Commoners, nature and wealth. The paper explains that this was done because “ecological strain” and “economic stratification” are the only two things that consistently plague collapsing societies.
- Published on Friday, 14 March 2014 15:40
- Written by editor
Please take the time to “like” this page and send out to friends, coworkers etc… As well watch for and sign on to the petition being actively started this weekend. Future campaign plans will also be added as they are confirmed.
Union wants VIHA to get involved in Sunridge layoffs
Cowichan Valley Citizen
Fri Mar 14 2014
Byline: Lexi Bainas
Source: The Citizen
The Hospital Employees' Union is calling for a meeting with Island Health about coming layoffs at Duncan's Sunridge Place seniors facility.
Last month, 264 employees,...
Snipers continue massacre while opposition refuses to hold talks with the government. Venezuela Student Protests
- Published on Thursday, 13 March 2014 03:40
- Written by editor
Venezuela students clash with riot police
Three killed in confrontation between police and anti-government protesters, raising toll from weeks of rallies to 24.http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2014/03/venezuela-students-clash-with-riot-police-201431361238806774.html
Three more people were killed in Venezuela in clashes between police and anti-government protesters, raising the death toll from weeks of demonstrations to 24.
Police on Wednesday fired tear gas and water cannon at scores of rock-hurling students in the capital, Caracas, where about 3,000 students marched to mark a month since the first deaths in weeks of demonstrations.
There were similar opposition protests in the cities of San Cristobal, Merida and Valencia.
The demonstrations have been fuelled by public fury over deteriorating living conditions in the oil-rich South American country. Violent crime, shortages of essential goods like toilet paper, and inflation have combined to create the most serious challenge yet for leftist President Nicolas Maduro.
A student and a civilian were killed during protests in Venezuela's third city Valencia, while a member of the Bolivarian National Guard died in clashes in the nearby city of Naguanagua.
The governor of Carabobo state, home to both cities, blamed anti-government "snipers" for the student's death in a friendly fire incident. But local media said Jesus Acosta, 20, died from a shot to the head near his home, adding that he was not participating in protests at the time.
Guillermo Sanchez, 42, died of a bullet wound and was shot outside his home, Valencia's opposition Mayor Miguel Cocchiola said on Twitter.
Ameliach said Captain Ramso Ernesto Bracho Bravo died from a gunshot.
Since the protests began, opposition leaders and students, as well as government authorities, have accused each other of backing radical groups that attack demonstrations with firearms.
Maduro met with cabinet members late on Wednesday and agreed to deploy security forces in hot spots and arrest people financing and supplying "these violent groups" of the opposition, Communications Minister Delcy Rodriquez said on Twitter.
The Caracas march had not been approved by authorities, with Maduro saying the demonstrators were simply looking for trouble. The president announced this week he was banning any protests in the centre of the capital as long as the opposition refuses to hold talks with the government.
But the students turned out anyway, chanting slogans and demanding the release of protesters detained in earlier demonstrations.
Hilda Ruiz, a student leader from Central University, told AFP news agency the marchers also wanted authorities to respond to allegations of police torture and to punish those responsible for the deaths of demonstrators.
The anti-government protests first erupted on February 4 in the western city of San Cristobal, reaching Caracas on February 12 when three people were killed after an opposition protest ended in clashes with security forces.
South American foreign ministers met in Santiago, Chile on the Venezuelan crisis and agreed to form a commission to support talks between the government and the opposition.
The goal of the commission of foreign ministers of the regional bloc UNASUR is to "accompany, support and advise on a broad and constructive political dialogue".
Now we’re getting ready to hold local rallies to take this campaign to the next level, and you’ll hear from us soon.
- Published on Friday, 07 March 2014 00:00
- Written by editor
 Trio of parliamentary watchdogs on the Ethics witness list. (CBC News)
 Petition against changes to election laws delivered on Parliament Hill. (Global TV)
 53,700 signatures contre la réforme électorale. (Le Devoir)
 The fair elections act doesn’t address the real problems with voting (Globe and Mail)
Your campaign to Stop Voter Suppression is making waves!
Last week, we travelled to Ottawa and delivered your 53,000+ strong petition to Parliament. Now we’re getting ready to hold local rallies, and turn up the pressure even more.
Thank you so much to all our monthly donors for making this possible. Will you join them and help carry this work forward?
Last week, I travelled to Ottawa and delivered your 53,000+ Stop Voter Suppression signatures to Parliament. I was joined on the stage at the Ottawa Press Gallery by Craig Scott, David Christopherson and Alexandrine Latendresse from the NDP, Stephane Dion, Scott Simms, and Frank Valeriote from the Liberal Party of Canada, and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.
- Published on Tuesday, 04 March 2014 15:40
- Written by editor
- Published on Sunday, 23 February 2014 02:40
- Written by editor
OLYMPIA, Wash. — On Christmas Eve, Kevin Johnson received the following gifts: a bed and mattress, a blanket and sheets, a desk and chair, a toilet and sink, towels and washcloths, toothpaste and floss, and a brand-new house.
Mr. Johnson, a 48-year-old day laborer, did not find that last item beneath the Christmas tree, although it nearly would have fit. At 144 square feet — 8 by 18 feet, or roughly the dimensions of a Chevrolet Suburban — the rental house was small. Tiny would be a better descriptor. It was just half the size of the “micro” apartments that former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg proposed for New York City.
This scale bothered Mr. Johnson not at all, and a few weeks after moving in, he listed a few favorite design features. “A roof,” he said. “Heat.” A flush toilet! The tents where he had lived for most of the last seven years hadn’t provided any of those things.
In what seemed like an Oprah stunt of old, Mr. Johnson’s friends (21 men and seven women) also moved into tiny houses on Dec. 24. They had all been members of a homeless community called Camp Quixote, a floating tent city that moved more than 20 times after its founding in 2007.Camp Quixote, a floating tent city, became Quixote Village.
Beyond its recent good fortune, the settlement was — and is — exceptional.Quixote Village, as it is now called, practices self-governance, with elected leadership and membership rules. While a nonprofit board called Panza funds and guides the project, needing help is not the same thing as being helpless. As Mr. Johnson likes to say, “I’m homeless, not stupid.”
A planning committee, including Mr. Johnson, collaborated with Garner Miller, an architect, to create the new village’s site layout and living model. Later, the plans were presented to an all-camp assembly. “Those were some of the best-run and most efficient meetings I’ve ever been involved in,” said Mr. Miller, a partner at MSGS Architects. “I would do those over a school board any day.”
The residents lobbied for a horseshoe layout rather than clusters of cottages, in order to minimize cliques. And they traded interior area for sitting porches. The social space lies outside the cottage. Or as Mr. Johnson put it, “If I don’t want to see anybody, I don’t have to.”
It is rare that folks who live on the street have the chance to collaborate on a 2.1-acre, $3.05 million real estate development. Nearly as surprising is that Quixote Village may become a template for homeless housing projects across the country. The community has already hosted delegations from Santa Cruz, Calif.; Portland, Ore.; and Seattle; and fielded inquiries from homeless advocates in Ann Arbor, Mich.; Salt Lake City; and Prince George’s County, Md.
In a few other cities, “micro-housing” is close to sheltering populations of the chronically homeless. OM Build, a subsidiary of the economic-justice movement Occupy Madison, runs a workshop to construct 99-square-foot wood cabins on wheels in Wisconsin’s capital. After appealing to the City Council for the right to park these structures on lots like church property, Occupy Madison began a $50,000 crowdfunding campaign to build 10 more dwellings. A prototype finished last fall cost $5,000, said Bruce Wallbaum, a workshop organizer. “We could probably do it cheaper, but we’re trying to do a home,” he said, “not a shed or an RV.”
- Published on Friday, 07 February 2014 16:05
- Written by editor
RCMP, CSIS accused of violating Charter rights of anti-pipeline activists
CBC News Posted: Feb 06, 2014 5:08 PM PT Last Updated: Feb 06, 2014 6:05 PM PT
Protesters against Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway pipeline are shown gathering outside the Joint Review Panel's final argument hearings in Terrace, B.C., in June 2013. A B.C. civil liberties group says documents show that police and CSIS conducted unconstitutional and possibly illegal actions by gathering information on peaceful activists who opposed the pipeline. (Robin Rowland/CP)
Privacy advocates in B.C. are demanding an investigation into the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service for allegedly spying on opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline project.
Documents released last year through Access to Information requests show the RCMP and CSIS took direction from the National Energy Board to monitor and report on "threats" to the project's federal review panel by pipeline opponents — including advocacy groups Idle No More and ForestEthics.
The B.C. Civil Liberties Association has lodged two complaints with the organizations responsible for overseeing the RCMP and CSIS, claiming the surveillance was unconstitutional and possibly illegal.
"The RCMP and CSIS have absolutely no business gathering information on people who are engaged in peaceful democratic activity," said BCCLA executive director Josh Paterson.
A senior RCMP official involved in the operation found "no direct or specific criminal threat," but the spying continued anyway. The documents indicate the RCMP relied on sources inside some of the groups.
- Published on Friday, 07 February 2014 13:10
- Written by editor
Charities fear they may lose charitable status
By Evan Solomon, Kristen Everson, CBC News Posted: Feb 06, 2014 8:55 PM ET Last Updated: Feb 06, 2014 11:14 PM ET
The Canada Revenue Agency is currently conducting extensive audits on some of Canada's most prominent environmental groups to determine if they comply with guidelines that restrict political advocacy, CBC News has learned.
If the CRA rules that the groups exceeded those limits, their charitable status could be revoked, which would effectively shut them down.
Many of the groups are among the Conservative government's fiercest critics. Finance Minister Jim Flaherty signalled clearly in his budget of 2012 that political activity of these groups would be closely monitored and he allocated $8 million to the effort. The environmental organizations believe they have been targeted with the goal of silencing their criticism.
“We’re concerned about what appears to be an increase in audits around political activity and in particular around environmental organizations,” said Marcel Lauzière, president of Imagine Canada, an umbrella organization for charities.
“There’s a big chill out there with what charities can and cannot do.”
The list of groups CBC has now confirmed are undergoing audits reads like a who’s who in the environmental charity world. They include:
- The David Suzuki Foundation
- Tides Canada
- West Coast Environmental Law
- The Pembina Foundation
- Environmental Defence
- Ecology Action Centre
“This is a war against the sector,” says John Bennett, of Sierra Club Canada. His group is not yet being audited, but he said he is prepared.
"In the 40-year history of the Sierra Club Canada Foundation, it's been audited twice in 40 years," so there are more audits than usual, Bennett said.
George Lakoff: 'Conservatives don't follow the polls, they want to change them ... Liberals do everything wrong'
- Published on Monday, 03 February 2014 03:40
- Written by editor
The Guardian, Saturday 1 February 2014 How the progressives have got it wrong and if they don't start to get it right, the conservatives will maintain the upperhand Frustrated by the left … George Lakoff.
- Published on Monday, 20 January 2014 18:48
- Written by editor
- Published on Thursday, 09 January 2014 15:24
- Written by editor
Published: 08 Jan 2014 14:02 GMT+01:00
Updated: 08 Jan 2014 14:02 GMT+01:00
A French court on Wednesday convicted a young woman for wearing a full-face Islamic veil in public and threw out her bid to have the country's controversial burqa ban declared unconstitutional.
Cassandra Belin, 20, was also convicted of insulting and threatening three police officers at the time of her arrest, which sparked two days of rioting in the town of Trappes, near Paris, in July, 2013. She was given a one-month suspended prison sentence for the clash with the police and a 150-euro ($200) fine for wearing the veil.
Her lawyers, who argued that the burqa ban impinges on religious freedom and unfairly target Muslims, had asked for an emergency ruling on the constitutionality of the ban before sentencing. But that request was rejected on the grounds that the Constitutional Council had previously upheld the 2011 law.
Belin's lawyer, Philippe Bataille, said he would consider an appeal and pledged to continue fighting to overturn the ban. "I'm not throwing in the towel," he said.
Thibault de Montbrial, the lawyer for the three police officers, welcomed the court's ruling. "We cannot tolerate exceptions to the law of the land," he said.
The European Court of Human Rights is expected to rule later this year in a case brought by a French Muslim who argues the burqa ban violates her right to freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of assembly, and breaches a prohibition against discrimination.
France argues the ban is necessary for security reasons and to uphold the country's secular traditions.But critics say if security is a consideration, then motorcycle helmets should also be outlawed.
In theory the ban covers all face coverings, but in practice the only arrests have been of women wearing Muslim veils.
- Published on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 14:24
- Written by editor
One lawyer involved in the case says the judgment, which follows several years of legal proceedings that included a trip to the Supreme Court of Canada, should serve as a yet another warning to the provincial government about the need to meaningfully consult with First Nations over resource development.
Moulton Contracting Ltd. sued the government, as well as the Fort Nelson First Nation and several band members, over a non-violent blockade that began in October 2006 and stretched on until the new year.
George Behn and members of his family launched the blockade after Moulton Contracting obtained timber sales licences from the provincial government. The licences covered an area used by the family for trapping under their treaty rights.
- Published on Tuesday, 07 January 2014 13:00
- Written by editor
“Chuck Strahl is a former senior Conservative Minister handpicked by Stephen Harper to replace disgraced previous SIRC chair Arthur Porter,” said New Democrat House Leader Nathan Cullen (Skeena-Bulkley Valley). “It should be common sense that someone on the federal payroll, like Mr. Strahl, shouldn’t lobby for a pipeline seeking federal government approval.”
Strahl registered in British Columbia on December 6, 2013 to lobby on behalf of Enbridge. As a former Minister he is prohibited from federal lobbying, but vague guidelines could mean he can use loopholes in the Act to skirt the rules and lobby the province, even on a federal pipeline issue.
This latest controversy comes on the heels of earlier reports of CSIS caught spying on behalf of natural resource companies – spying on Canadians opposed to the pipeline that Mr. Strahl is now paid to lobby for.
“Canadians were already concerned about the federal government using CSIS and the Canada Revenue Agency to target environmental groups and charities – now we learn the Chair of CSIS’ civilian oversight Committee is a paid pipeline lobbyist,” concluded Cullen. “This just further undermines people’s confidence in the fairness of the pipeline approval process.”
- Published on Tuesday, 24 December 2013 13:48
- Written by editor
BY JOSEPH MENN
SAN FRANCISCO Fri Dec 20, 2013 5:07pm EST
A National Security Agency (NSA) data gathering facility is seen in Bluffdale, about 25 miles (40 km) south of Salt Lake City, Utah, December 16, 2013. Jim Urquhart/
(Reuters) - As a key part of a campaign to embed encryptionsoftware that it could crack into widely used computer products, the U.S. National Security Agency arranged a secret $10 million contract with RSA, one of the most influential firms in the computer security industry, Reuters has learned.
Documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden show that the NSA created and promulgated a flawed formula for generating random numbers to create a "back door" in encryption products, the New York Times reported in September. Reuters later reported that RSA became the most important distributor of that formula by rolling it into a software tool called Bsafe that is used to enhance security in personal computers and many other products.
Undisclosed until now was that RSA received $10 million in a deal that set the NSA formula as the preferred, or default, method for number generation in the BSafe software, according to two sources familiar with the contract. Although that sum might seem paltry, it represented more than a third of the revenue that the relevant division at RSA had taken in during the entire previous year, securities filings show.
The earlier disclosures of RSA's entanglement with the NSA already had shocked some in the close-knit world of computer security experts. The company had a long history of championing privacy and security, and it played a leading role in blocking a 1990s effort by the NSA to require a special chip to enable spying on a wide range of computer and communications products.
RSA, now a subsidiary of computer storage giant EMC Corp, urged customers to stop using the NSA formula after the Snowden disclosures revealed its weakness.
RSA and EMC declined to answer questions for this story, but RSA said in a statement: "RSA always acts in the best interest of its customers and under no circumstances does RSA design or enable any back doors in our products. Decisions about the features and functionality of RSA products are our own."
The NSA declined to comment.
- Published on Monday, 23 December 2013 18:00
- Written by editor
The setting sun reflects off a tailings pond behind Syncrude’s oilsands upgrading facility north of Fort McMurray on June 18. The plant converts bitumen extracted from oilsands into synthetic crude oil, which is then piped to southern refineries. Alberta’s oilsands are the third largest proven oil reserve in the world.
Photograph by: Ryan Jackson , Edmonton Journal
EDMONTON - More than 75 environment officers who watched over oil industry activities left the provincial environment department this fall, to take higher paying jobs with the new industry-funded Alberta Energy Regulator. Another 75-plus are expected to leave in the spring.
In mid-November, the department also began handing over to the regulator thousands of files on oil industry activity pertaining to the Public Lands Act, according to documents obtained by the Journal.
This shift in staffing and the moving of years of files out of a government department to the new arm’s length regulator are key steps in the government’s plan, announced last spring, to create a more streamlined approval process for oil companies that wanted “one window” to get permits for new projects.
Previously, companies had to apply to the environment department for some permits and to the old regulator, the now defunct Energy Resources Conservation Board.
To achieve the “one window,” the provincial government handed over to the privately funded regulator responsibility for administering the Water Act, Public Lands Act, and the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act (dealing with spills) as they pertain to energy companies.
Former Energy Minister Ken Hughes said last spring that the new regulator will have checks and transparency built in to make sure it enforces environment laws as strongly as occurred under the environment department. The new regulator is funded solely by industry, whereas previously, the regulator was funded jointly by industry and government.
But New Democrat Rachel Notley worries the dismantling of large parts of the environment department will result in weaker protection because the Alberta Energy Regulator’s mandate is to advance oil industry activity.
“This is just another step going down this road — we now have a regulator whose prime mandate in legislation is to promote economic development and it is now also the prime environmental enforcer in the oilpatch,” said Notley.
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