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Small World, Big Idea


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.

Launch media viewer 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.”

Read more: Small World, Big Idea

Alleged CSIS, RCMP spying on Northern Gateway pipeline protesters prompts complaint

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.

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.

Read more: Alleged CSIS, RCMP spying on Northern Gateway pipeline protesters prompts complaint

7 environmental charities face Canada Revenue Agency audits

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
  • Equiterre
  • 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.

Read more: 7 environmental charities face Canada Revenue Agency audits

George Lakoff: 'Conservatives don't follow the polls, they want to change them ... Liberals do everything wrong'

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 George Lakoff Frustrated by the left … George Lakoff.

"The progressive mindset is screwing up the world. The progressive mindset is guaranteeing no progress on global warming. The progressive mindset is saying, 'Yes, fracking is fine.' The progressive mindset is saying, 'Yes, genetically modified organisms are OK', when, in fact, they're horrible, and the progressive mindset doesn't know how to describe how horrible they are. There's a difference between progressive morality, which is great, and the progressive mindset, which is half OK and half awful."

  1. Don't Think of an Elephant: Know Your Values and Frame the Debate
  2. by George Lakoff
  1. Tell us what you think:Star-rate and review this book

George Lakoff, professor of cognitive science at the University of California, Berkeley, has been working on moral frames for 50 years. In Communicating Our American Values and Vision, he gives this precis: "Framing is not primarily about politics or political messaging or communication. It is far more fundamental than that: frames are the mental structures that allow human beings to understand reality – and sometimes to create what we take to be reality. But frames do have an enormous bearing on politics … they structure our ideas and concepts, they shape the way we reason … For the most part, our use of frames is unconscious and automatic."

Read more: George Lakoff: 'Conservatives don't follow the polls, they want to change them ... Liberals do...

Richest 85 People Own As Much Wealth As Poorest 3.5 Billion: Oxfam

The world’s 85 wealthiest people hold as much wealth as the poorest 3.5 billion, or half the world population, according to a new report from global anti-poverty group Oxfam.

That’s roughly $1.7 trillion for both the 85 richest people, and the poorest half of the planet.

The global economy has become so skewed in favour of the rich that economic growth in many countries today “amounts to little more than a ‘winner takes all’ windfall for the richest,” Oxfam said in a statement.

The report, titled Working for the Few, warns that democratic institutions are being undermined as an increasing amount of wealth is concentrated in the hands of the richest, making it ever easier for them to influence policy to enrich themselves further. The report calls this process “political capture.”

The report comes ahead...

Read more: Richest 85 People Own As Much Wealth As Poorest 3.5 Billion: Oxfam

Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer


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

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.

Read more: Secret contract tied NSA and security industry pioneer

The Pentagon's doctored ledgers conceal epic waste and has amassed a backlog of more than half a trillion dollars in unaudited contracts with outside vendors

(Reuters) - Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense's accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon's main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy's books with the U.S. Treasury's - a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came...

Read more: The Pentagon's doctored ledgers conceal epic waste and has amassed a backlog of more than half a...

Nearly 300 contractors replaced with temporary foreign workers

A makeshift flag flies at Husky Energy’s Sunrise site north of Fort McMurray. Approximately 270 welders and pipefitters were replaced in late September by temporary foreign workers. Many workers were told about the change on Labour Day. SUPPLIED PHOTO

A makeshift flag flies at Husky Energy’s Sunrise site north of Fort McMurray. Approximately 270 welders and pipefitters were replaced in late September by temporary foreign workers. Many workers were told about the change on Labour Day. SUPPLIED PHOTO

It was unlike any Labour Day Ryan Louis had experienced.

As hundreds of pipefitters and welders arrived at Husky Energy’s Sunrise project for their weeks-long shifts, a company spokesperson told the crew of approximately 270...

Read more: Nearly 300 contractors replaced with temporary foreign workers

Homeless Woman Deals With Hiccup on Path to Home Ownership

Homeless Woman Needs $10,000 for Dream Home

Jessica Meyers

The last month has been a roller coaster ride for a Philadelphia homeless woman on a mission to become a homeowner. 


"I don't give up on things I care about," said Jessica Meyers, 28. "Everybody has problems in their life. It's whether you use it as a positive thing or negative thing (like a crutch)."

Meyers has until Sept. 15 to come up with $9,800 to purchase the West Philadelphia home she spent eight years in as a squatter, and then legitimately won during a Philadelphia Housing Authority (PHA) auction last month.

On July 16, PHA auctioned 196 homes to reduce its stock. Meyers' winning bid was $8,000, plus $800 in auction fees and $1,000 in closing costs. But even though she won the right to live in the home she's been squatting in, fixing up and hosting others at for almost a decade, right now she doesn't have the money to pay for it.

In order to participate in the auction, she had to borrow $2,500 for the deposit. Her friend, Amira Dvorah, who she calls her fairy godmother stepped in.

Meyers turned to a crowd-funding campaign hoping the goodwill from strangers would help her come up with the rest of the money. She used Indiegogo, a popular crowd-funding website, to raise the funds. At the time of the PHA auction in July, about $3,000 had been donated.

Things were heading in the right direction, then abruptly, days after the PHA auction, Indiegogo froze the online auction and returned all the money raised to the donors. The $3,000 was gone.

"It was discouraging but I'm not going to let that stop me," said Meyers. 

The Syracuse native started scouring the web that same day and turned to a British crowd-funding site, GoGetFunding, to continue her campaign. She sent an email to her donors advising them that their funds were being returned by Indiegogo. She asked them to donate again on the new platform. To date, she's raised $2,800 on GoGetFunding and is about $7,000 away from her goal.

Meyers believes someone reported her campaign to Indiegogo out of spite. In the fine print of their terms, there is a clause about real estate. 

This week, Indiegogo responded to an NBC10 inquiry about Meyers' Indiegogo campaign with an about-face, issuing this statement:

"This campaign is indeed in compliance with Indiegogo's terms of service. We've reinstated the campaign and are waiving all fees."

At present, $682 has been raised as part of the new Indiegogo campaign. With two funding portals active, frequent trips to the flea market and a car wash plan in the works, Meyers believes her homeowner dreams will soon come true.

She's hoping the car wash will help her close the deal. She's written to PHA to ask them if she can make use of their parking lot at 47th and Baltimore on Aug. 31 and the following two Saturdays.  A-Space, a neighboring community center, has offered Meyers their support. 

Getting the money together is just the tip of the iceberg. Then she'll have to figure out how to pay for some much-needed improvements at the home, which could easily require a few thousand more dollars.

Since going public with her story and answering Craigslist posts for free contracting materials, Meyers said she's received death threats. But she insists none of that bothers her. She's been contacted by a production company and is considering shooting a pilot show on her life, that is after she can call herself a homeowner. 

Meyers hopes sharing her ordeal will help change the public's perception of the homeless. 

"We are not bums," she added. "I'm living here to make a social point. I'm doing something good for that community and nationwide." 

Contact Sarah Glover at 610-668-5580,  or follow @skyphoto on Twitter.

Cold Lake spill continues and getting int'l headlines


Wanted to drop a quick note on the latest from the unstoppable tar sands oil spill. that continues to leak uncontrollably in Cold Lake, Alberta. Today, government officials clarified that the spill continues and there is "no control of this incident."
The story now getting international headlines (here's a story that ran today in the International Business Tribune: Canadian Natural Resource (CNQ) Cannot Stop Oil Well Leaks Causing Environmental Damage: Alberta Energy Regulator).
This international attention is growing and with decisions in the EU on tar sands and their Fuel Quality Directive, and, of course, in the US a pending decision expected this fall on the Keystone XL pipeline -- this is a highly newsworthy story that I think you're readers will be interested in.
Anyways, I just wanted to make sure you saw all this, as it is a very big story with so many consequences unfolding smack-dab in the dog days of summer. 
If you're interested I can likely set up an interview with people very close to the story, as well as experts on the policy implications of this spill.
If you do write something, please pass on the link as I will promote it out on social media networks and email lists. 
Kevin Grandia

How FBI Entrapment Is Inventing 'Terrorists' - and Letting Bad Guys Off the Hook

homegrown terroristsThis past October, at an Occupy encampment in Cleveland, Ohio, "suspicious males with walkie-talkies around their necks" and "scarves or towels around their heads" were heard grumbling at the protesters' unwillingness to act violently. At meetings a few months later, one of them, a 26-year-old with a black Mohawk known as "Cyco," explained to his anarchist colleagues how "you can make plastic explosives with bleach," and the group of five men fantasized about what they might blow up. Cyco suggested a small bridge. One of the others thought they’d have a better chance of not hurting people if they blew up a cargo ship. A third, however, argued for a big bridge – "Gotta slow the traffic that's going to make them money" – and won. He then led them to a connection who sold them C-4 explosives for $450. Then, the night before the May Day Occupy protests, they allegedly put the plan into motion – and just as the would-be terrorists fiddled with the detonator they hoped would blow to smithereens a scenic bridge in Ohio’s Cuyahoga Valley National Park traversed by 13,610 vehicles every day, the FBI swooped in to arrest them.

Right in the nick of time, just like in the movies. The authorities couldn’t have more effectively made the Occupy movement look like a danger to the republic if they had scripted it. Maybe that's because, more or less, they did.

The guy who convinced the plotters to blow up a big bridge, led them to the arms merchant, and drove the team to the bomb site was an FBI informant. The merchant was an FBI agent. The bomb, of course, was a dud. And the arrest was part of a pattern of entrapment by federal law enforcement since September 11, 2001, not of terrorist suspects, but of young men federal agents have had to talk into embracing violence in the first place. One of the Cleveland arrestees, Connor Stevens, complained to his sister of feeling "very pressured" by the guy who turned out to be an informant and was recorded in 2011 rejecting property destruction: "We're in it for the long haul and those kind of tactics just don't cut it," he said. "And it's actually harder to be non-violent than it is to do stuff like that." Though when Cleveland's NEWS Channel 5  broadcast that footage, they headlined it "Accused Bomb Plot Suspect Caught on Camera Talking Violence."

In all these law enforcement schemes the alleged terrorists masterminds end up seeming, when the full story comes out, unable to terrorize their way out of a paper bag without law enforcement tutelage. ("They teach you how to make all this stuff out of simple household items," one of the kids says on a recording quoted in the FBI affidavit about a book he has just discovered, The Anarchist Cookbook. Someone asks him how much it says explosives cost. "I'm not sure," he responds, "I just downloaded it last night.") It’s a perfect example of how post-9/11 fear made law enforcement tactics seem acceptable that were previously beyond the pale. Previously, however, the targets have been Muslims; now they’re white kids from Ohio. And maybe you could argue that this is acceptable, if the feds were actually acting out of a good-faith assessment of what threats are imminent and which are not. But that's not what they're doing at all. Instead, they are arrogating to themselves a downright Orwellian power – the power to deploy the might of the State to shape a fundamental narrative about which ideas Americans must be most scared of, and which ones they should not fear much at all, independent of the relative objective dangerousness of the people who hold those ideas.

To see how, travel with me to rural Florida, and another arrest that occurred at almost exactly the same time. On April 28, members of American Front, a white-supremacist group labeled "a known terrorist organization" in the affidavit justifying the arrest, took a break from training with machine guns for a race war in order to fashion weapons out of fake "Occupy" signs which they planned to use to assault May Day protesters in Melbourne, Florida. No script, no choreography for maximal impact on sensation-hungry news broadcasts, no melodramatic press conference with a U.S. attorney and FBI Special Agent in Charge; this arrest only went down after an informant working with state law enforcement fled in fear for his or her life after being threatened by the group's leader Marcus Faella with a 9mm pistol. And though the media reported the involvement of a "joint terrorism task force of FBI and local law enforcement" the arresting affidavit does not even mention federal law enforcement; the charges filed were state, not federal. A circuit court judge scrawled a bail amount of $51,250; that was accidentally knocked down to $500. The Cleveland anarchists were held without bond.

The contrasts are extraordinarily instructive. When federal law enforcement agencies take an affirmative role in staging the crimes, the U.S. Justice Department then prosecutes, leaving more clear-and-present dangers relatively unbothered, the State is singling out ideological enemies. Violent white supremacists are not one of these enemies, apparently – because, as David Neiwert, probably the nation’s top journalist on the subject, told me, the federal government has much less often sought to entrap them, even though they are actually the biggest home-grown terrorism threat.  That is unconstitutional, because law enforcement’s criterion for attention has been revealed as the ideas the alleged plotters hold – not their observed violent potential.

Who else are we supposed to be afraid of? Certainly animal-rights and environmental radicals. In 2006, when FBI Director Robert Mueller announced the indictments of Animal Liberal Front activists who burned down a horse-rendering plant in 1997, harming no humans, he called such property destruction one of the agency's "highest domestic terrorism priorities." We're supposed to be afraid of Muslims, of course – though not even necessarily Muslim militants. In a sting stunningly anatomized on a Pulitzer-worthy This American Life episode from 2005 the target, British citizen Hemant Lakhami, known as "Habib," was an Indian-born Willy Loman, so dumb he referred to night-vision goggles, which he’d never heard of, as "sunglasses" and so broken down and desperate for attention he told the federal informant he had full-sized submarines to sell. He was egged by the informant into selling him Stinger missiles (Lakhami had approached him hoping to sell him mangoes). Upon Lakhami's terrorism conviction then-U.S. Attorney Chris Christie stepped up to the press conference microphones to announce, "Today is a triumph for the Justice Department in the war against terror. I don't know that anyone can say that the state of New Jersey, and this country, is not a safer place without Hemant Lakhani trotting around the globe attempting to broker arms deals."

But don't worry your pretty little heads over the epidemic of far-right insurrectionism that followed the election of Barack Obama: all told, according to a forthcoming data analysis by Neiwert, there have been 55 cases of right-wing extremists being arrested for plotting or committing alleged terrorists acts compared to 26 by Islamic militants during the same period. The right-wing plots include the bombing of a 2011 Martin Luther King Day parade in Spokane and the assassination of abortion doctor George Tiller in 2009. Neither of their perpetrators, it goes without saying, had been arrested before they attempted their vile acts; neither required law enforcement entrapment to conceive and carry them out. It's just too bad for their victims they did not fit the story federal law enforcement seeks to tell.

I use the word "story" advisedly. Entrapment is the most literary of abuses of power: Investigators and prosecutors become as unto little Stephen Kings, feeding into, and feeding, the fear centers of our lizard brains in order to manipulate their audience. Unsurprisingly, the tactic crops up whenever the powers that be are themselves most frightened for their power, such as during the 1960s, when instigation of criminal acts by agents provacateurs infiltrating the anti-war movement became extremely prevalent. When one of the accused Chicago 7 left the courtroom just as a witness for the prosecution left the stand, the other six became horrified when it became clear that the guy who had just got up (actually to go to the bathroom) was a plant about to testify against them.

The antiwar movement soon learned whom to be afraid of: people who don’t quite fit in, who always seemed ready to volunteer for anything (if you’re on the FBI payroll, you don’t need a job), people pressing violence when everyone else in the room preferred peace. In the 1972 "Camden 28" trial of Catholic left conspirators who tried to steal and destroy registration records from a local draft board, the star witness got his breaking-and-entering training from the FBI and swore in court that the accused never would have raided the building absent his leadership.  Although the people the FBI preferred to recruit were the sort who had trouble keeping jobs anyway. They were frequently mentally unstable: the agent provocateur whose recordings got twenty-three members of Vietnam Veterans Against the War indicted for supposedly conspiring to attack the 1972 Republican National Convention with "lead weights, 'fried' marbles, ball bearings, cherry bombs ... wrist rockets, slingshots, and cross bows" had received a psychological discharge from the Army. And they were usually criminals. In the Harrisburg 7 trial of in 1972 (in which the feds fantastically claimed that a pacifist priest, some nuns, and their confreres intended to blow up the steam tunnels beneath Washington, D.C.) the prosecution's star witness had offered himself to the FBI as an undercover New Lefty from the jail cell where he was serving time for so many crimes the U.S. Attorney had classified him as a "menace to society."

The entrapment game still works the same. In the case documented on This American Life, informant "Habib" was such a notorious liar, thief, and con man that the feds deactivated him – until after September 11, when suddenly "different FBI bureaus were fighting" for his services. The key informant in the Animal Liberation Front arrests was a truck thief and heroin addict. The dude in the Cleveland anarchist case, identified by as a Donald Trump fan named Shaqil Azir, had convictions for cocaine possession, robbery, and passing bad checks – and was also under a current check-fraud indictment the FBI covered up in its affidavit. They also neglected to mention his frequent appearances in bankruptcy court.

Such choices are a feature, not a bug: Criminals with cases pending are able to act more convincingly as, well, criminals, and will do anything the government asks to reduce their sentences; sociopaths are better able to manipulate the emotions of macho young men. The play's the thing. Although sometimes the play becomes too convincing: In the Watergate hearings in 1973, some of the witnesses testified that hearing about VVAW's violent plans to disrupt the Republican convention were what convinced them it was OK to break laws on behalf of their president.

Not everything is the same since the 1970s, of course. The media has changed: Newsday editorialized in 1972 of the Camden case, "We have come to expect such tactics from totalitarian nations that have no respect for individual rights permitting dissent. They have no place in American and those who advocate them have no place in this government." You don’t see that sort of language much any more. Indeed, Newsday appears not to have covered the arrest and trial of Hemant Lakhami at all. "Such tactics" are just not a very big deal any more.

You know what else has changed? You and I – to our shame. Entraptment is illegal  – but the question of whether law enforcement set up a legal sting or illegal entrapment is for a jury to decide. Entrapment was why juries acquitted the defendants in the Camden, VVAW, and Harrisburg cases. "How stupid did those people in Washington think we were?" a Harrisburg juror told a reporter. The feds don’t have to worry about folks like that any more. Not a single "terrorism" indictment has been thrown out for entrapment since 9/11 – not the Liberty City goofballs supposedly planning to blow up the Sears Tower who had no weapons and refused them with offered; not the Newburgh, New York outfit whose numbers included a schizophrenic who saved his own urine in bottles. (Even the judge who sentenced them said "the government made them terrorists.")

The civil liberties of the Florida white supremacist Marcus Faella, at least, have been honored. He was out on bail the day he was arrested. There’s no police informant to monitor his activities any more, but not to fear. His experiments in attempting to produce the deadly toxin ricin, according to the Florida affidavit, have not so far been successful. And Connor Stevens, heard on the menacing video shown on Cleveland news saying that his favorite part of Occupy protests " is meeting people walking down the street, average people, talking to them, hearing about how they're affected by the economy, by the justice system, things like that"? He is safely behind bars. So, for the rest of his life, is Hemant Lakhami, the hapless Stinger missile salesman. The man who put him there, Chris Christie, is now the celebrated governor of New Jersey, and was all but begged by his fellow to run for president. Republicans think he tells a good story.

Rick Perlstein is the author of Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus and Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. He writes a weekly column for

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Enbridge asked to "cease and desist" pipeline work :: Alliance pursuing legal action, also considering physically blocking Enbridge

Protesters from B.C. first nations groups in Edmonton to protest the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline.Members of a First Nations group in northern B.C. are warning Enbridge against trespassing on their lands for work along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline.

Members of the Yinka Dene Alliance, whose territories are along the proposed pipeline, have sent a "cease and desist" letter saying they are opposed to Enbridge seeking temporary permits to conduct preliminary work, including drilling and tree removal.

Alliance spokesperson Jackie Thomas says the company is not authorized to conduct this work on their land.

"The Joint Review Panel, the National Energy Board, hasn't even finished its report or made any kind of recommendation for this work to go forward," she said.

Thomas says the alliance will first pursue legal action against the company for trespassing.

She says they are also considering physically blocking Enbridge from doing work.

The alliance says they are also seeking a meeting with Premier Christy Clark to talk about their concerns.

Femen activists jailed in Tunisia retract apology

French and German members of Ukrainian feminist group Femen retract apology once they arrive on French soil

European feminist activists who spent a month in jail after a topless protest in Tunisia retracted the apology they made a day earlier to go free and claimed to have endured filthy and humiliating conditions in prison.

The two French women and a German member of the Ukrainian group Femen were freed overnight after a court in the Muslim country lifted their prison sentence. Hours later, on Thursday, they arrived in France.

The women, who were convicted for taking off their shirts outside a courthouse in the capital, Tunis, maintained during the trial that there was nothing sexual or offensive about their protest and that it was only to support an imprisoned Tunisian colleague.

All three apologised on Wednesday during their appeals hearing....

Read more: Femen activists jailed in Tunisia retract apology

Maximum 10-year prison term Wearing a mask at a protest or riot is now a crime

masks-anonA bill that bans the wearing of masks during a riot or unlawful assembly and carries a maximum 10-year prison sentence with a conviction of the offence became law today.

Bill C-309, a private member's bill introduced by Conservative MP Blake Richards in 2011, passed third reading in the Senate on May 23 and was proclaimed law during a royal assent ceremony in the Senate this afternoon.

Richards, MP for Wild Rose, Alta., said the bill is meant to give police an added tool to prevent lawful protests from becoming violent riots, and that it will help police identify people who engage in vandalism or other illegal acts. The bill is something that police, municipal authorities and businesses hit hard by riots in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and other cities in recent years, were asking for, according to Richards.

"The provisions of my bill are effective immediately, which means police officers across Canada now have access to these tools to protect the public from masked rioters," Richards said in a statement being released today.

The bill creates a new Criminal Code offence that makes it illegal to wear a mask or otherwise conceal your identity during a riot or unlawful assembly. Exceptions can be made if someone can prove they have a "lawful excuse" for covering their face such as religious or medical reasons.

The bill originally proposed a penalty of up to five years, but the House of Commons justice committee amended it and doubled the penalty to up to 10 years in prison for committing the offence.

Richards noted in his statement how rare it is for a private member's bill to become law and said that its final passage is the culmination of two years of work and a lot of consultation with police and business owners.

Bill comes into force immediately upon royal assent

"We can all rest easier tonight knowing our communities have been made safer with its passage," said Richards.

The bill didn't have unanimous support, and was opposed by some who are concerned about its effect on freedom of expression and privacy. Critics said the measures are unnecessary because the Criminal Code already includes a section about wearing disguises while committing a crime.

Civil liberties advocates argued the measures could create a chilling effect on free speech and that peaceful protesters can unintentionally find themselves involved in an unlawful assembly. They also noted that there are legitimate reasons for wearing masks at protests; some may be worried about reprisals at work, for example, if sighted at a political protest.

Read more: Maximum 10-year prison term Wearing a mask at a protest or riot is now a crime

EU bans three pesticides harmful to bees

THE European Commission said it will ban for two years beginning in December pesticides blamed for killing the bees that pollinate food and fruit crops.


The decision to ban the three insecticides, made by chemicals giants Bayer and Syngenta, "marks another milestone towards ensuring a healthier future" for bees, EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg said.

Bayer of Germany and Switzerland's Syngenta insist that their products are not to blame for a very sharp decline in the bee population which has stoked fears over future food security, made worse by the unpredictable impact of climate change.

Borg said he was following up on a pledge made in April that he would do his utmost "to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over 22 billion euros annually to European agriculture, are protected."

The insecticides - imidacloprid and clothianidin produced by Bayer, and thiamethoxam by Syngenta - are used to treat seeds and are applied to the soil or sprayed on bee-attractive plants and cereals.

Bees account for 80 per cent of plant pollination by insects, which is vital to global food production. Without them, many crops would be unable to bear fruit or would have to be pollinated by hand.

Member states must now change their rules by September 30, with existing stocks of the insecticides allowed to be used up to end-November.

"As soon as new information is available, and at the latest within two years, the Commission will review this restriction to take into account relevant scientific and technical developments," a statement said.

"Pesticides have been identified as one of several factors which may be responsible for the decline in number of bees.

"Other factors also include parasites, other pathogens, lack of veterinary medicines or sometimes their misuse, apiculture management and environmental factors such as lack of habitat and feed and climate change," it added.

Bee numbers have slumped in Europe and the United States in recent years due to a mysterious plague dubbed colony collapse disorder (CCD), which results in a rapid loss of adult worker bees.

The disorder has killed off about 30 per cent of bees annually since 2007.

Global march challenges Monsanto's dominance: TIMELINE May 25th

See a large compendium of pictures and video's for the Global Action

More All Candidates Meeting in Victoria

Victoria – Beacon Hill Candidates Meeting on Poverty, Homelessness and Harm Reduction

Location: First Metropolitan United Church Hall, 932 Balmoral Rd.
Date and Time: Tuesday, May 7, 7 p.m.
Hosted by the Downtown Service Providers.
Contact: tel. 250-370-1506 or 778-977-3494


Victoria Beacon Hill All-Candidate Debate
Location: Garry Oak Room at Fairfield Community Place, 1335 Thurlow Rd.
Date and Time: Thursday, May 9, 7-9 p.m.
Hosted by: The Fairfield Gonzales Community Association
Moderator: John Farquharson
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Phone: 250-382-4604.


Victoria Swan Lake All Candidates Meeting
Location:Garth Homer Society, 813 Darwin Ave
Date and Time: Thursday, May 9, 6:30-9 p.m.
Co-Sponsored by: Hillside Quadra Neighborhood Action Group, Camosun Community Association, Quadra Cedar Hill Community Association
Moderated by: Stephen Andrew, Legislature Reporter- Anchor | CTV News Vancouver Island
6:30-7 p.m. candidates meet and greet
7-9:00 p.m. moderated debate:
John Schmuck email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Read more: More All Candidates Meeting in Victoria

Supreme Court refuses First Nation's appeal over oilsands expansion

The existing Shell Jackpine oilsands mine north of Fort McMurray, Alta.

The Supreme Court of Canada has refused to hear the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation's bid to block a ruling on Shell's Jackpine oilsands mine expansion in northern Alberta.

Legal advisers for the band said Thursday its options to force the company to take its concerns into account aren't over.

The First Nation wanted a regulatory board to rule on whether the band had been adequately consulted before the board decided if the Shell project could go ahead.

The board said governments should determine how much consultation is adequate. The Alberta Court of Appeal agreed and the high court has refused to hear an appeal of that decision.

"We are truly disappointed with this decision as we have diligently proceeded through legal avenues to have our rights upheld," Athabasca Chipewyan Chief Allan Adam said in a statement.

"We understand that this joint review panel was supposed to uphold everyone's constitutional rights. Why has there been an exception with regards to First Nations' consultation rights? Government must be held accountable to their treaty obligations."

The First Nation also says the decision means the board will make a Jackpine decision without anyone considering whether the band's right to adequate consultation has been fulfilled.

It hinted it may mount another...

Read more: Supreme Court refuses First Nation's appeal over oilsands expansion

Pipeline industry pushed changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act: documents

Heather Scoffield,  Wednesday, February 20, 2013 2:6 PM

OTTAWA - When the Harper government included a radical overhaul of the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the last omnibus bill, outsiders scratched their heads and wondered out loud where that idea had come from.

Documents obtained through the Access to Information Act show it came, in part, from the pipeline industry.

The Canadian Energy Pipeline Association met with senior government officials in the fall of 2011, urging them not just to streamline environmental assessments, but also to bring in "new regulations under (the) Navigable Waters Protection Act," a CEPA slide presentation shows.

A copy of the Oct. 27 presentation made to then-deputy minister of trade Louis Levesque was obtained by Greenpeace Canada and shared with The Canadian Press.

At the time, the federal government was preparing for a major overhaul of environmental oversight as part of its plan to launch its "Responsible Resource Development" initiative in the 2012 budget.

With so many of the pipeline-related rules in flux, the CETA board of directors decided to hold its fall strategy meeting in Ottawa, and meet with Levesque at the same time.

They had a concise but aggressive wish list, the slides show:

— Regulatory reform so that each project goes through just one environmental review;

— Bolster the Major Projects Management Office (tasked with steering resource projects efficiently through the bureaucracy);

— Speed up permitting for small projects;

— Make government expectations known early in the permitting process;

— Support an "8-1-1" phone line to encourage construction companies to "call before you dig";

— Modify the National Energy Board Act so it can impose administrative penalties, in order to prevent pipeline damage;

— New regulations under the Navigable Waters Protection Act.

The main message was to tell federal decision-makers that if they were serious about "one project, one review," they should look at the entire array of reviews that resource development faces, CEPA president Brenda Kenny explained Wednesday in an interview.

Their plea was for Ottawa to clean up a messy system, strengthen their oversight if need be, but also fix archaic legislation like the Navigable Waters Protection Act, which subjected pipelines to another layer of scrutiny even though pipelines are almost always drilled underneath waterways and don't impact the water.

"If you're serious about sustainable development, it's very helpful to have a clear environmental assessment that is going to address any and all environmental impacts very well, and to then have that inform thoroughly the triple-bottom-line decisions that rely on that input," said Kenny.

In the end, they got almost everything they wanted except the 8-1-1 hotline. Federal regulators ruled that idea out, mainly because the number is already being used by telephone-health services in many provinces.

The first budget omnibus bill in June contained a replacement for the Environmental Assessment Act and also a provision to remove pipelines and power lines from provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Predictably, reaction from environmentalists was negative, while business and the natural resource sector reacted positively to the changes.

But then the government surprised many close observers by going even further in a second omnibus bill, C-45. The Navigable Waters Protection Act was changed to the Navigation Protection Act, significantly reducing its scope over Canada's waters.

Transport Minister Denis Lebel has argued that the changes were in response to demands from municipalities, who found that the act was tying them up in red tape as they tried to build bridges and culverts, said spokesman Mike Winterburn.

But over the decades, the act — originally written in 1882 — had morphed into a central pillar of environmental legislation. Critics say the major changes in C-45 were never discussed in that context.

"I never really knew where this call for change came from," said NDP environment critic Megan Leslie.

At the time, the House of Commons environment committee was reviewing the Environmental Assessment Act, and the need for changes did not come up despite vibrant discussions about how to streamline approvals for resource development, she said.

"It was never in any documents, it was never an addendum to testimony or anything like that. And in some private meetings I've had with some industry reps, they too have expressed to me that they don't know why the Navigable Waters Act changes were made."

While Leslie said it's perfectly acceptable for industry groups to present the government with lists of policy recommendations, "what's not normal is that those changes are accepted holus-bolus, without any consultation."

The changes prompted another outcry late last year from environmentalists, who were then joined by First Nations across the country who took to the streets in protest.

Now, as U.S. President Barack Obama has signalled his intention to focus on climate change, the Harper cabinet is scrambling to tout its green credentials and prove the worthiness of Canadian pipelines — especially since Obama's decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is pending.

Greenpeace Canada's climate and energy co-ordinator, Keith Stewart, wonders if the government and the pipeline industry are having any regrets, given the push-back.

"I think it's a case of 'be careful what you ask for,'" he said.

Both the pipeline industry and the federal government want faster approvals as well as "social licence" in the form of positive public support. But achieving the first goal is limiting their ability to achieve the second goal, he added.

"The pipeline companies ultimately got the kind of changes they wanted to Environmental Assessment legislation and the Navigable Waters Protection Act in the 2012 budget omnibus bills. This may prove to be a pyrrhic victory, however."

CEPA's Kenny does not agree. Rather, she said she wishes critics would recognize that the federal government has now set a higher environmental standard for pipelines by consolidating their processes.

"It's unfortunate that this has become so emotional. There's a misunderstanding of the implications, to be blunt."

© The Canadian Press, 2013

Read it on Global News: Global News | Pipeline industry pushed changes to Navigable Waters Protection Act: documents

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