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State of the Union 2012: The missing peace in Obama's speech

For Americans and a huge chunk of non-Americans who (sometimes unwillingly) are affected by U.S. policy and rhetoric, the annual State of the Union (SOTU) address makes for must-watch TV.

Oh, except for that one time in 2010 when an episode of Lost was nearly delayed thanks to competing airtime, leading many to question whether the president was even aware of this pending catastrophe. Very kindly, the White House assured America's citizenry that President Obama would "not pre-empt the premier of the show's final season."

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Tallying the costs of Obama's war in Afghanistan

President Barack Obama signed a slew of bills into law during the lame-duck session of Congress and was dubbed the "Comeback Kid" amid a flurry of fawning press reports. In the hail of this surprise bipartisanship, though, the one issue over which Democrats and Republicans always agree, war, was completely ignored. The war in Afghanistan is now the longest war in U.S. history, and 2010 has seen the highest number of U.S. and NATO soldiers killed.

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Argentina detention centre serves as lesson for Guantanamo

"Gitmo is going to remain open for the foreseeable future," said an unnamed White House official to The Washington Post this week. For guidance on the notorious U.S. Navy base in Cuba, President Barack Obama should look to an old naval facility in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Columnists

Big banks and foreclosure fraud in the U.S.

The big banks that caused the collapse of the global finance market, and received tens of billions of dollars in taxpayer-funded bailouts, have likely been engaging in wholesale fraud against homeowners and the courts. But in a promising development this week, attorneys general from all 50 states announced a bipartisan joint investigation into foreclosure fraud.

Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, GMAC and other big mortgage lenders recently suspended most foreclosure proceedings, following revelations that thousands of their foreclosures were being conducted like "foreclosure mills," with tens of thousands of legal documents signed by low-level staffers with little or no knowledge of what they were signing.

Columnists

The criminalization of dissent in the U.S.

Early in the morning on Friday, September 24, FBI agents in Chicago and Minnesota's Twin Cities kicked in the doors of anti-war activists, brandishing guns, spending hours rifling through their homes. The FBI took away computers, photos, notebooks and other personal property. Residents were issued subpoenas to appear before a grand jury in Chicago. It was just the latest in the ongoing crackdown on dissent in the U.S., targeting peace organizers as supporters of "foreign terrorist organizations."

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Torture in Iraq continues

Combat operations in Iraq are over, if you believe President Barack Obama's rhetoric. But torture in Iraq's prisons, first exposed during the Abu Ghraib scandal, is thriving, increasingly distant from any scrutiny or accountability. After arresting tens of thousands of Iraqis, often without charge, and holding many for years without trial, the United States has handed over control of Iraqi prisons, and 10,000 prisoners, to the Iraqi government. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

Columnists

Obama should restore White House solar panels

BONN, Germany -- When first lady Michelle Obama started an organic garden at the White House, she sparked a national discussion on food, obesity, health and sustainability. But the green action on the White House lawn hasn't made it to the White House roof, unfortunately.

Columnists

Corporate rotten eggs

What do a half-billion eggs have to do with democracy? The massive recall of salmonella-infected eggs, the largest egg recall in U.S. history, opens a window on the power of large corporations over not only our health, but over our government.

While scores of brands have been recalled, they all can be traced back to just two egg farms. Our food supply is increasingly in the hands of larger and larger companies, which wield enormous power in our political process. As with the food industry, so, too, is it with oil and with banks: Giant corporations, some with budgets larger than most nations, are controlling our health, our environment, our economy and increasingly, our elections.

Is Canada ready for Confederation with the 'Fab Four'?

The U.S. border crossing at Point Roberts, Washington, one of the communities fighting to join Canada. Photo: Gniatroid/Wikipedia

Four tiny U.S. jurisdictions running along the Canadian border have joined forces to petition the government of Stephen Harper for support in their efforts to secede from the United States and join Canada.

Representatives from Point Roberts, Washington, Elm Point and The Northwest Angle, both in Minnesota, and Alburgh, Vermont, say they want to join British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario and Quebec, respectively.

"We don't have to be granted individual Canadian statehood [sic], or anything like that. Point Bob can join British Columbia and the others can find their natural homes in those other [provinces]," Point Roberts alderman Glennard Beck-Ramirez said.

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No justice for Maher Arar in U.S. court

"Extraordinary rendition" is White House-speak for kidnapping. Just ask Maher Arar. He's a Canadian citizen who was "rendered" by the U.S. to Syria, where he was tortured for almost a year.

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