Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Andy Gipson, Mississippi GOP Lawmaker, Blasts Gays, Cites Bible Passage Calling For Their Death

Mississippi state Rep. Andy Gipson (R) weighed in on President Barack Obama's gay marriage decision last week, invoking a bible passage that calls for gay men to be "put to death."

In a May 10 Facebook post, Gipson called homosexuality a "sin," citing Leviticus 20:13 and Romans 1:26-28:

Leviticus 20:13 reads: "If a man has sexual relations with a man as one does with a woman, both of them have done what is detestable. They are to be put to death; their blood will be on their own heads."
On the same thread, he responded to a follower, calling same-sex relationships "unnatural" and suggesting that they will inherently "result in disease":

UnityMS flagged the post and issued a response to Gipson's comments:
Mr. Gipson needs to realize he represents all of his constituents. He should not cherry-pick which constituents he wants to work for. He should also realize his positions are neither popular nor Republican. LGBT individuals, couples, and families help pay Gipson’s salary. It’s important that he remember that.
While the nation's approval of gay marriage has trended upward, topping out at over 50 percent in a recent poll, a November 2011 survey found that only 13 percent of Mississippi voters thought it should be legal, while 78 percent said it should remain illegal. Even among Democrats, only 19 percent expressed support.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: Nick Wing

Igor Kholmanskikh, Man Who Threatened Protesters, Given Top Job

MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin on Friday gave a senior government post to a tank factory worker who had offered to come to Moscow with fellow laborers to disperse opposition protests.

Putin said he would make Igor Kholmanskikh the presidential envoy to the Ural Mountains region, saying the job will help him protect the interests of workers.

Kholmanskikh, a section head at the Uralvagonzavod factory that builds battle tanks in the Urals city of Nizhny Tagil, became widely known when he denounced anti-Putin protesters during a live TV program in December in which Putin took call-in questions. He said he and colleagues would help clear the streets of demonstrators if police couldn't.

Wall Street Reform: Obama Pushes Reforms After JPMorgan's $2 Billion Loss

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama says the big trading loss at JPMorgan Chase shows the need to finally put in place banking rules he signed into law two years ago. He also is calling on Congress to stop trying to weaken the regulations.

The $2 billion loss has renewed calls by Democratic lawmakers for tougher rules on major financial institutions.

"Without Wall Street reform, we could have found ourselves with the taxpayers once again on the hook for Wall Street's mistakes," Obama said in his weekly media address Saturday. He added: "We've got to finish the job of implementing this reform and putting these rules in place."

NATO Summit 2012: Protesters Charged With Terror Conspiracy

CHICAGO — Three men accused of making Molotov cocktails had been planning to attack President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters, Mayor Rahm Emanuel's home and other targets during this weekend's NATO summit, prosecutors said Saturday.

The three were arrested Wednesday when police raided an apartment on the city's South Side ahead of the two-day meeting.

Defense attorneys alleged that the arrests were an effort to scare the thousands of people expected to protest at the gathering of world leaders. They told a judge that undercover police were the ones who brought the Molotov cocktails.

"This is just propaganda to create a climate of fear," defense attorney Michael Duetsch said.

NATO Meeting Kicks off With Harassment of Protesters, Ominous Warnings to Press

The Chicago police wasted no time harassing protesters Wednesday evening when they raided a Bridgeport apartment complex without a valid warrant and detained up to nine people without cause. The individuals have been identified as NATO activists, and the NLG quickly responded to the arrests.

    “We’ve called police officials at every level trying to find out where they were being held. We were denied any information at all about any people being arrested, let alone a raid happening last night. So essentially these people were disappeared for more than twelve hours until we could finally locate them,” said NLG spokesman Kris Hermes.

    Lawyers from The NLG were allowed to meet with nine individuals and reported that they were in low spirits, confused about why they were arrested and shackled at both their hands and feet at the meeting. No charges have been filed against them almost 24 hours after their arrest and an Illinois States Attorney at the station refused to meet with the NLG lawyers.

Stephen Harper G8: Obama Hosts PM, Other Leaders At Summit

CAMP DAVID, Md. - U.S. President Barack Obama welcomed Stephen Harper and other world leaders on Friday to this verdant presidential retreat, kicking off two international summits aimed at tackling global issues ranging from the future of battle-scarred Afghanistan to the European economic crisis.

The leaders of the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Japan and two European Union officials opened the G8 summit with dinner at historic Camp David, a rural compound tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains in the remote northwestern reaches of Maryland, before retiring to private cottages for the night.

Obama, standing at the end of a tree-lined stone path leading to a spacious, cedar-shingled cabin where dinner was held, greeted the leaders one-by-one with hearty hellos before heading inside to break bread.

Harper and the Environment are Like Oil and Water

The Harper government is waging war on Canada's freshwater.

We didn't start with a strong record. Our national water laws are out-dated, we don't properly enforce the ones we have and we chronically underfund source water and watershed protection. And consecutive governments refuse to consider the effect on freshwater when creating economic, industrial, energy or trade policies.

Yet the Harper government appears intent on systematically dismantling the few protections that have been put in place at the federal level to protect our freshwater heritage.

In its 2011 budget, the Harper government announced a reduction of over $222 million from the budget of Environment Canada and the elimination of over 1,200 jobs in the department. Programs to protect water, such as the Action Plan on Clean Water, which funds water remediation in Lakes Winnipeg and Simcoe among others, were particularly hard hit. Others targeted for deep cuts include the Chemicals Management Plan and the Contaminated Sites Action Plan, both of which are crucial to source water protection.

The Charter guarantees 'peaceful' assembly

Canada has no “freedom of assembly” in its Charter of Rights and Freedoms. It has a “freedom of peaceful assembly.” The distinction means everything in the context of the student unrest in Quebec. An element of intimidation and physical threat has been part of the demonstrations over planned tuition increases for the past 14 weeks. There have been serious outbreaks of vandalism and violence, and student leaders have made no attempts to do anything about them. The Quebec government of Jean Charest has a duty to bring the province under control, and the law it has proposed would, with some tweaking, be a fair and constitutionally permissible means of doing so.

The students and their leaders have behaved outrageously. Only all-out victory will satisfy them. Thus, they are not partners for negotiations. They demand their constitutional rights be protected, as if their rights were absolute, yet they have no compunction about trampling on the rights of others.

EI has caused shameful damage down east

Critics of the federal government’s plan to press workers on employment insurance (EI) to accept available work remind me of Captain Renault walking into Rick’s Nightclub in the film Casablanca. They are shocked — shocked, mind you — to discover that there is gambling going on in this establishment.

Renault knew perfectly well what was going on in Rick’s; he was a regular there himself. But it became a convenient excuse when he needed to close the place down.

Where EI is concerned, the critics are shocked at the suggestion we might need EI reform because after all, highly qualified engineers shouldn’t be forced to sling fries at minimum wage. True. But it is also a herring of the deepest red hue. We need EI reform to end the shameful damage it has caused in many communities, particularly throughout eastern Quebec and Atlantic Canada.

Proposed changes to EI perturb Atlantic Canada

The debate over proposed changes to the $22-billion employment insurance system – which could force people to move to where the jobs are and penalize repeat claimants – has created a stir across the country, but nowhere more so than out east.

In Atlantic Canada, where nearly half of EI claimants have seasonal jobs in the fishery, construction, tourism and agriculture, EI is less an insurance program than an income maintenance plan. And it represents a major chunk of the region’s economic pie: EI contributed about $2.8-billion to the Atlantic provincial economies in 2009 alone.

The last time a government attempted to overhaul the system, it paid a big price: 20 Liberal MPs from the four Atlantic provinces were thrown out of office in the 1997 election, largely on the back of Jean Chrétien’s cuts for chronic claimants.

Forget tuition fees: If anything calls for a riot, it’s Harper’s stealth governance

Want to hear a pitch for a movie? It’s sort of a 3-D sequel to Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, except twice as weird and four times as depressing.

There’s a bill, called C-38. It’s driven to Parliament on forklifts retrofitted for maximum stealth. This bill, similar at 420 pages in weight and heft to a small pony, is delivered to dead-eyed MPs, behind whom stands the chief whip, taser in hand. The drool-drenched backbenchers nod in unison, and put the bill back on the forklifts for rubber-stamping further down the line.

What’s the film’s title? I’m calling it Canada.

At least Mulcair has joined the great Canadian battle

Thomas Mulcair, the newish NDP leader, says we should slow down development of the Alberta oilsands. In Mulcair’s view, the Western energy sector’s runaway success is inflating the value of the Canadian dollar, undermining the success of other exports, and punishing the hard-working people of Ontario and Quebec.

At least the man shows no fear. In fact, Mulcair’s comments show that he has decided to exploit regional tensions in Canada, as the resource-rich West increasingly takes Ontario’s place as the nation’s economic engine.

Not surprisingly, the NDP leader’s position has generated the usual round of tut-tutting, hand-wringing, and keyboard-pounding from pundits across the nation. And I would agree that Mulcair is ignoring some inconvenient truths as he searches for scapegoats — starting with the fact that Canada’s manufacturing sector seems to be rebounding quite nicely.

Still, the man’s onto something here.

Changes to Old Age Security equal big savings for Ottawa, big costs for seniors

Raising the Old Age Security eligibility age to 67 will save Ottawa $10.8-billion a year once the plan is fully implemented in 2030, according to new figures released by the government.

Federal ministers have long resisted opposition demands for a price tag on the OAS changes, but Finance Canada decided Friday to release a preliminary estimate that was compiled by the Office of the Chief Actuary.

The gradual phase-in of a higher OAS eligibility age from 65 to 67 is contained in the Conservative government’s omnibus budget bill, C-38.

Federal Budget 2012: Opposition to budget bill galvanizing

OTTAWA—It may be the most sweeping overhaul of Canadian law ever contemplated in one piece of legislation: 425 pages of dense legalese that amends or throws out more than 60 existing federal statutes.

But for many, the complex uproar over the Conservatives’ budget bill has been reduced to a single remark: “There is no bad job.”

It came from Finance Minister Jim Flaherty, who was being pressured to explain the ongoing mystery of how the Conservatives will crack down on jobless people receiving Employment Insurance (EI) once Bill C-38 is passed by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority.

Mulcair's oilsands crackdown would put some operations out of business, says ally

OTTAWA — A prominent B.C. academic and close political ally of New Democratic Party leader Tom Mulcair said Friday that Mulcair's environmental policies would lead to some oilsands operations being rendered no longer being viable.

The statement by University of B.C. professor Michael Byers, Mulcair's leadership campaign co-chairman on the West Coast, was seized on immediately by one of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's senior lieutenants.

"Mr. Byers is just being more honest than Mr. Mulcair in just stating the obvious implication" of Mulcair's policy of stepping up enforcement of federal environmental laws and bringing in a cap-and-trade system to put a price on carbon emissions, said Immigration Minister Jason Kenney.

Childish political antics infiltrating Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government

OTTAWA—The McGuinty clan, with generations of experience in public service, metes out a humiliating discipline to family members who talk too much about politics.

The offenders are consigned to the kids’ table.

Here’s how Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty explained it last December, after hearing that his brother, Ottawa South MP David McGuinty, was floating his name as a possible candidate for the federal Liberal leadership.

“He’s going to have to sit at the little card table at the Christmas dinner. He’s not gonna sit at the dining room table with the rest of us,” the premier said.

Quebec Student Protest: Molotov Cocktails Launched At Montreal Protest

MONTREAL - Flaming Molotov cocktails were hurled and windows were smashed during demonstrations designed as an act of defiance Friday against a legal crackdown by the Quebec government on student protests.

By the end of the hours-long protest, police had arrested four people.

Through most of the night the thousands-strong crowd remained peaceful as it sought to make the case that a new provincial law setting limits on protest, which only comes into application Saturday, will fail to end months of student-led unrest.

Montreal protest simmers after tuition crisis law passes

Flaming Molotov cocktails were hurled and windows were smashed during demonstrations designed as an act of defiance Friday against a legal crackdown by the Quebec government on student protests.

By the end of the hours-long protest, police had arrested four people.

Through most of the night the thousands-strong crowd remained peaceful as it sought to make the case that a new provincial law setting limits on protest, which only comes into application Saturday, will fail to end months of student-led unrest.

The calm was shattered at a downtown intersection where at least one incendiary device was lobbed. The object sailed overhead, before crashing down into the street in front of police.

Mulcair digs in for long debate on ‘Dutch disease’

Thomas Mulcair says it was never his intent to spar with the leaders of the Western provinces as he blames Alberta’s oil sands for the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in Canada’s other economic sectors.

“I have far too much respect for provincial premiers or for provincial politicians, having been one myself for so many years, to ever want to be interpreted as trying to dismiss them,” the Leader of the federal New Democrats, who was once a provincial cabinet minister in Quebec, said on Friday in an interview with The Globe and Mail.

“And if that is the way it was interpreted, of course,” he said, “I regret it.”

Molotov cocktails launched in Montreal protests following legal crackdown

Molotov cocktails were tossed during a large protest designed as an act of defiance Friday against a legal crackdown by the Quebec government.

At least one explosive device was lobbed over a downtown intersection, sailing through the air before it crashed into the street in front of police.

It erupted in flames and a puff of smoke. A Canadian Press photographer reported seeing at least two such objects thrown and there were other reports of multiple devices being tossed at that spot on the edge of Chinatown.

G20 aftermath: Blair accepts responsibility but doesn’t apologize

In an open letter to Torontonians, Police Chief Bill Blair said Friday he accepts responsibility for the actions of his police service and its members during the G20 summit, but stopped short of an apology.

“I will ensure that the lessons we learn during the G20 are incorporated into our procedures, our training and our future response. I am also fully committed to holding police officers of any rank accountable for misconduct,” the chief said.

“I remain committed to the safety of our city and all its citizens. I remain committed to restoring the confidence of the people we are sworn to serve and protect.”

Blair announced Friday he will take the rare step of bringing in a retired judge and former Crown attorney for the G20-related misconduct hearings. The hearings will be open to the public, as is standard.

He also said he brought eight more applications to the police services board Friday, requesting permission to lay disciplinary charges against officers for their roles during the summit.

About 15 officers will face disciplinary hearings, as some cases involve more than one. They include officers in the high-profile Adam Nobody case, a source told the Star.

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) has identified five officers who should be charged in the Nobody case.

Eight constables have already been charged under the Police Services Act for alleged G20 misconduct, bringing the total number to about 23.

When the process is complete, 28 frontline officers are expected to face disciplinary action, as well as two senior officers, although it’s unclear whether they were among Friday’s group.

The charges stem from investigative reports completed by the OIPRD, the province’s police complaints watchdog. They “substantiate” allegations of misconduct, meaning the investigators believe there’s enough evidence to prove misconduct occurred.

Police hearings act much like a court of law, where officers may defend themselves against charges levied against them. If the charges — which are not criminal — are upheld, penalties range from docked pay to losing their jobs. Charges filed so far include the use of unnecessary force and unnecessary arrest.

Earlier this week, OIPRD director Gerry McNeilly released a scathing systemic review of the G20, slamming police for poor planning, breaching Charter rights and using excessive force.

The June 2010 summit, which saw a group of black-clad vandals wreak havoc on the downtown core, also resulted in the largest mass arrest in Canadian history.

As revealed in Friday’s Star, the OIPRD has also “substantiated” allegations of misconduct against three senior officers, including Supt. Mark Fenton, the commanding officer who ordered mass arrests and the “unlawful” kettling at Queen St. W. and Spadina Ave. on the final day of the summit.

The other two officers are Supt. Michael Farrar and Staff. Insp. Frank Ruffolo, who were in charge of the prisoner processing facility on Eastern Ave. Both are now retired and so can not face disciplinary hearings.

A fourth senior officer, Insp. Gary Meissner, will face disciplinary action stemming from alleged G20 misconduct.

When reached Friday, Meissner said he has not yet received an official notice of a disciplinary hearing but has been “informally” notified.

It is unclear what allegations of misconduct have been made against Meissner. He politely declined to comment at this time.

“Unfortunately, I can’t,” he said. “I’m sorry, I’m not in a position to do so.”

During the summit, Meissner was the public order unit alpha section commander in charge of deploying the long range acoustical device (LRAD), which can send verbal warnings and also control crowds with pain-inducing tones.

According to the McNeilly’s review, orders were given for the LRAD to be used at 5:43 p.m. on June 26, 2010 at Queen’s Park, shortly after the breakout of violence led by black-clad vandals. Five minutes later, Meissner was making arrests, according to a special operations director quoted in the report.

The report noted, however, that many people failed to hear crowd warnings from the LRAD. If G20 planners and commanders were relying on the LRADs for crowd control, the devices should have been used “more times, in more directions, and in more locations around Queen’s Park.”

“It appears the use of the LRAD was more about using the new piece of equipment rather than a method to have real and meaningful communication with the protesters,” the report said.

Meissner also deployed the LRAD on Queen St. W. at 6:26 p.m. that day — this time, without permission, according to the report.

“I understand why they wanted us to ask the MICC (major incident command centre) for permission to use it,” Meissner told the police watchdog. “But, I didn’t ask for it on Queen St. because I was told to arrest everybody and to my way of thinking as a site commander, I needed to assure myself and I needed to prove to everybody else that this was a compliant crowd.

“As a consequence, I stepped out of the line and did not ask for permission to use the LRAD, but used it to prove a point,” he continued. “And the point was that if you are involved in an engagement where, in fact, the crowd can hear the message clearly and is willing to comply, then all they want is direction.”

Prior to the G20 summit, a Superior Court judge imposed restrictions on use of the LRAD, noting it “requires very senior command authorization.”

Meissner, who is based out of 51 Division, was also site commander for the peaceful evictions at St. James Park last year during the Occupy Toronto movement. Many protesters there praised the efforts of police for reaching a peaceful resolution in a temporary standoff over the library yurt.

In a statement Friday afternoon, the Toronto Police Services Board said it is “acutely aware” the OIPRD’s systemic report has raised “considerable and significant issues” about G20 policing.

“The board wants to reassure the public that it is committed to ensuring that all recommendations made in that report respecting police accountability and responsibility will be thoroughly reviewed and addressed as expeditiously as possible,” the statement said.

The board also said it is awaiting the Independent Civilian Review of the G20 in late June, led by retired judge John Morden, which will focus on the role of civilian oversight.

“The board is very serious about discharging its responsibilities in the public interest. To this end, it has already begun a review of the recommendations of Mr. McNeilly.”

Original Article
Source: Star
Author: Jayme Poisson and Jennifer Yang

Why won’t Chief Bill Blair say sorry for police actions during G20?

Say sorry, chief. Please.

It’s a word that has not passed Bill Blair’s lips in all the forelock-tugging and buck-stops-here declarations cascading from a slew of formal post-mortems on the G20 debacle.

Sorry that civil liberties were profoundly breached by his officers, at least 28 now facing disciplinary hearings.

Sorry that wrongful orders were given by his key senior commanders, four of whom have been identified at the very top of the policing pyramid.

Sorry that the tenor of disastrous confrontation was established by his then-deputy-chief: Take back the city.