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Half Of Voters Canadian Don't See Conservatives As An Option

Half of Canadians would not consider voting for the Conservatives in the next federal election, a new Nanos Research poll suggests.

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Nik Nanos of Nanos Research tells host Evan Solomon "the Conservatives are turning off voters."

The online survey found that 51.5 per cent of Canadians would not consider voting for the Conservatives, compared to 36.4 per cent seven months earlier.

The survey shows there's been a significant decline in the number of "people the Conservatives can try to grab, over the last number of months, and it speaks to the tough job that the Conservatives have," Nanos said.

The national survey was conducted just as MPs closed out the spring sitting of Parliament amidst several controversies, including a $90,000 cheque Stephen Harper's former chief of staff gave to Senator Mike Duffy and RCMP investigations into the Senate expenses scandal.



Why Pakistan Is a Bigger Threat to Israel than Iran

Tarek Fatah, The Toronto SUN

While the United States and Israel incessantly obsess with the possibility of a future nuclear Iran, they barely ever raise such concerns about Iran's next door Islamic neighbour Pakistan that brandishes its nuclear weapons with Islamic zeal and barely concealed contempt for the "kufaar" -- Jews, Christians, Hindus, atheists and other non-Muslims.

But there are others inside Pakistan who do not share America and Israel's myopia. The country's leading anti-nuclear activist, physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy in his book Confronting the Bomb, has this to say about Pakistan's nukes:

"The fear of loose [nuclear] weapons comes from the fact that Pakistan's armed forces harbour a hidden enemy within their ranks. Those wearing the cloak of religion freely walk in and out of top security nuclear installations every day ... The fear of the insider is ubiquitous and well-founded."

Prof. Hoodbhoy is able to see through the complexity of his country's nuclear arsenal that both the White House and Jerusalem either choose to overlook or are grossly ignorant about. Hoodbhoy maintains that there are two Pakistani armies. One led by General Pervez Ashraf Kayani and the other by Allah. "It is difficult to find another example where the defence apparatus of a modern state has been rendered so vulnerable by the threat posed by military insiders." Even non-fundamentalist elements are "soft Islamists," he says. Hoodbhoy describes the Pakistani army as "a heavily Islamicised rank-and-file brimming with seditious thoughts."

As a friend of the Jewish people as well as the Arabs, the thought of a nuclear devise exploding over Israel gives me the jitters. The fact is, millions of Arabs too will be eviscerated in a nuclear attack on the Jewish State.



Hero Or Traitor: Americans Divided Over US Leaker

AFP | Jun 26, 2013

WASHINGTON: US intelligence leaker Edward Snowden has earned praise and condemnation from fellow Americans divided over whether his disclosures make him a whistleblowing hero or a self-absorbed traitor.

But public opinion remains fluid and Snowden's flight from Hong Kong to Moscow could cost him support, possibly recasting him as a mere pawn of America's adversaries.

According to surveys, Americans display "ambivalence" towards Snowden and the National Security Agency surveillance programs that he exposed, with opinions still shifting as the fast-moving drama unfolds, said Carroll Doherty, associate editor of the Pew Research Center.

In a USA Today/Pew poll released June 17, 54 per cent of respondents said Snowden should be prosecuted for his bombshell leaks.

But a YouGov poll earlier this month showed 35 per cent of Americans opposed putting Snowden on trial, with 26 per cent in favour and the rest undecided.



Bomb Attacks Kill 43 People In Pakistan As British Premier Pledges Support To Fight Extremism

Source: Associated Press

The Associated Press and Riaz Khan, The Associated Press Jun 30, 2013 07:09:00 AM

QUETTA, Pakistan – Bombings killed at least 43 people in three different areas of Pakistan on Sunday, just as Britain’s prime minister was in the capital pledging to help to fight extremism.

In the deadliest of the attacks, twin blasts near a Shiite Muslim mosque in Quetta, the capital of southwest Baluchistan province, killed at least 22 people, including two women and several minors, and wounded 65 others, said senior police officer Ishtiaq Ahmed.

Initial reports indicated a hand grenade the first blast, forcing people to run in the direction of the mosque, where a suicide bomber detonated his explosives, said another police officer, Fayaz Sumbal said. Radical Sunni Muslims have stepped up attacks in the past two years against minority Shiites, whom they consider to be heretics.

Local TV video showed ambulances rushing victims to the hospital and wheeling them inside on stretchers. Some of the bodies were covered with white sheets. Relatives of the victims frantically entered the emergency room to inquire about their loved ones. Security forces cordoned off the area of the attack.

Read more: Link to source

Israel 'Sweetens Deal For 930 East Jerusalem Homes'

JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israel is poised to approve incentives for buyers of nearly 1,000 new homes in annexed East Jerusalem despite a major US push to revive peace talks, reports said on Sunday.

The plan, which will offer prospective buyers a huge discount on 930 new homes to be built in Har Homa, will be discussed by Jerusalem municipality's finance committee on Monday, army radio and the Maariv newspaper reported.

The reports emerged as US Secretary of State John Kerry was wrapping up an intensive four days of shuttle diplomacy toing and froing between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to coax them back to direct negotiations.

If approved, the plan will lower the price of each new home by 100,000 shekels ($27,500) in a move which will be funded by the housing ministry.



Assad's Forces Battle To Tighten Control Of Central Syria


AMMAN | Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:02pm EDT
(Reuters) - President Bashar al-Assad's forces pounded Sunni Muslim rebels in the city of Homs with artillery and from the air on Sunday, the second day of an offensive to expand loyalist control over Syria's strategic centre, activists said.

They said rebels defending the old centre of Homs and five adjacent Sunni districts had largely repelled a ground attack on Saturday by Assad's forces but reported fresh clashes and deaths within the city on Sunday.

The offensive follows steady military gains by Assad's forces, backed by Lebanese Hezbollah militants, in villages in Homs province and towns close to the Lebanese border.

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Assad must halt his "brutal assault" on Homs. Gulf countries, which back the rebels, urged Lebanon to stop "parties" interfering in the Syria conflict, a reference to Iranian-backed Hezbollah.

Read more: http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/06/30/us-syria-crisis-idUSBRE95T0AN20130630

Restore The Fourth: Group Organizes Nationwide Anti-NSA Spying Protests On July 4

A group of concerned citizens has organized under the name "Restore The Fourth" and plans to protest what it calls "unconstitutional surveillance" at rallies across the U.S. on July 4.

HuffPost Live's Alyona Minkovski recently talked to Ben Doernberg of Restore the Fourth NYC about the group's NSA rally in Union Square on July 4 and how the group at large is demanding an end to all government programs that violate the Fourth Amendment.

MORE with video interview...


Restore the Fourth

Restore the Fourth is a nonviolent grassroots movement protesting indiscriminate government surveillance and the erosion of Fourth Amendment privacy rights. Inspired by recent NSA scandals, Restore the Fourth is planning a series of demonstrations across the U.S to take place this coming July 4th holiday.

In New York City, an organizational meeting will held at 8PM this Wednesday, June 12th, in Washington Square Park (near the Garibaldi statue on the eastern side of the park). Although Restore the Fourth is not formally affiliated with Occupy Wall Street, we encourage occupiers to attend in order to share the lessons we've learned and show our comrades the practices which have been most successful. See below for more information.


https://www.restorethefourth.net/ (under construction)

Popular Resistance Is Building Up, from Hunger Strikes to Democracy Protests Across the Planet

The paradox of power is that the real power is with us, if we have the courage to use it.

June 28, 2013

This week, there were many lessons in courage from people who overcame fears and created winning situations by turning power on its head and building the movement.

On Wednesday morning, attorney Lynne Stewart’s compassionate release from prison was denied. Stewart is suffering from breast cancer. Her husband, Ralph Poynter, stood vigil in DC to push for a decision, and then the decision came, with a result they did not want to hear. Stewart should not be in prison at all for her act of assisting her client with a press statement, but she continues to serve a 10 year sentence.

By her grace and strength Stewart turned a seemingly devastating decision into a victory. The abusive reality of the US government was laid bare as she responded with an open letter to her supporters entitled “ Disappointed, Not Devastated.” She included a photo of her in prison, obviously suffering from cancer, but smiling broadly. She showed her humanity, writing about her children and grandchildren, her Ralph and promised to continue the struggle. She concluded: “Fight On — All of Us or None of Us. An affront to one is an affront to all.”

She created a victory for all of us, pulled us together in a struggle for justice that affects each of us; she helped to build the movement.

Wednesday was also a day of inspirational protest in solidarity with Guantanamo prisoners. The shame of the Guantanamo Bay prison camp is pushing more and more Americans to stand with the prisoners, including Diane Wilson, a fourth generation shrimper from the Gulf Coast who was on her 57th day of a hunger strike. She was the first to begin a solidarity hunger strike with the more than 100 prisoners who have refused to eat in Guantanamo, some for 147 days. The contagious courage of her actions can be seen as there are now 13 long-term hunger strikers. Who knows how this will grow? Perhaps soon there will be one solidarity hunger striker for each Guantanamo prisoner on a hunger strike. Wouldn’t that be a message to the world that people in the United States are not in lockstep with their government? And, a message of support for the Guantanamo prisoners?



Should the U.S. Continue to Threaten Iran With War?

"President Barack Obama is not bluffing," Vice President Joseph Biden told AIPAC’s annual conference last March. "We are not looking for war. We are looking to and ready to negotiate peacefully, but all options, including military force, are on the table.” Biden was only repeating the military threat against Iran that Obama had made repeatedly over the prior two years, often in response to prodding from Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But with Iran having elected a new president, Hassan Rowhani, who ran on a promise to reduce Iran’s international isolation, should the Obama administration continue its bellicose posture toward Iran, or should it attempt to draw the new government into constructive negotiations by offering significant concessions?

The usual suspects have come forward with arguments why the U.S. should continue to hang tough. Brookings Institution fellow Michael O’Hanlon, a prime backer of Iraq invasion in 2003, and former correspondent Marvin Kalb propose giving Rowhani a month or two after he takes office in August to move forward on negotiations. If he does not, they call for Congress when it returns in September to pass a resolution “authorizing the president to use force under certain conditions” against Iran. Dennis Ross, who works for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, takes a somewhat less warlike tack, but counsels “wariness” toward the new Iraqi president. Ross argues that since America’s approach toward Iran led to Rowhani’s victory, there is no reason to change it, and he warns that there is “not a lot” of time for diplomacy. I’ll leave it to better minds than my own to parse out this reasoning.

Not everyone in Washington seems to agree with these hardline proposals. Matthew Duss and Lawrence Korb respond directly to O’Hanlon and Kalb’s argument for reliving those hoary days of October 2002 when Congress passed a resolution authorizing George W. Bush to use force against Iraq. Duss and Korb offer a needed corrective to O’Hanlon and Kalb’s framing the issue as whether the U.S. should conduct “pre-emptive aerial attacks against Iran” as it earlier had conduct “pre-emption” against Iraq. Duss and Korb point out—and it’s worth putting in capital letters—that the invasion of Iraq was not a PRE-EMPTIVE but a PREVENTIVE war, as would be aerial attacks against Iran. Iraq was not threatening to go to war against the U.S., nor is Iran threatening to go war against the United States. And preventive wars have never been sanctioned under any international agreement. Anyone but the perpetrator calls them international acts of aggression.

Duss and Korb also suggest that O’Hanlon and Kalb’s argument—that Iran would be most likely to respond favorably if the threat of “pre-emptive aerial attacks” were issued—is dubious at best. And they have a good deal of history behind this point.Iranian President Mohammed Khatami, who served from 1997 to 2005, and for whom Rowhani served as the nuclear negotiator, made repeated offers to the United States. Iran also cooperated with the United States in Afghanistan during the fall of 2001, but for its efforts, it got denounced as part of the “Axis of Evil” and threatened with regime change. American intransigence contributed to hardline Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in 2005 and to the ouster of Rowhani as nuclear negotiator. In other words, the prior instances of the O’Hanlon-Kalb and Ross strategies have netted the United States nothing but grief.



How Inbred Elites Are Tearing America Apart

MSNBC's anchor Chris Hayes pins Iraq, the economy, Katrina and more on elites — says we all must get radicalized now.

Salon / By David Daley

June 26, 2013 |

Twenty years ago, William Greider’s “Who Will Tell the People?” documented the betrayal of American democracy by the elites — by both political parties, by the press, by corporations and labor unions, and by a Washington regulatory complex so perfectly corrupt that it exists to serve only the monied interests.

Chris Hayes’ “Twilight of the Elites” (just published in paperback) might be the clearest story of America’s collapse since Greider’s essential telling. The story, of course, has only gotten worse. In Greider’s book, the elites were complicit in profiteering and rigging the system to their own advantage. But in Hayes’ story, the elites misled us into war, bungled the occupation, let an American city drown, and tanked the economy. Other elites in academia, athletics and religion didn’t have such a great decade, either.

“Twilight of the Elites” is a story about inequality and myths: the myth of the meritocracy and the reality of the very uneven society that allows those, in the words of Ann Richards, who were born on third base to end up thinking they hit a triple — and then find themselves protected when they screw up.

As Hayes writes:

“Along with all the other rising inequalities we’ve become so familiar with — in income, in wealth, in access to politicians — we confront now a fundamental inequality of accountability. We can have a just society whose guiding ethos is accountability and punishment, where both black kids dealing weed in Harlem and investment bankers peddling fraudulent securities on Wall Street are forced to pay for their crimes, or we can have a just society whose guiding ethos is forgiveness and second chances, one in which both Wall Street banks and foreclosed households are bailed out, in which both insider traders and street felons are allowed to rejoin polite society with the full privileges of citizenship intact. But we cannot have a just society that applies the principle of accountability to the powerless and the principle of forgiveness to the powerful. This is the America in which we currently reside.”

The anchor of MSNBC’s “All In” every weeknight at 8 p.m. Eastern, Hayes has quickly become one of the country’s most essential public intellectuals. We met in his Rockefeller Center office last week before moving across the street for lunch. This is a lightly edited and condensed version of our conversation.


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