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.]

Monday, July 02, 2012

Harper confronted by shouting protester in Quebec

A speech by Stephen Harper was briefly interrupted today by the shouts of a protester at an international conference in Quebec City.

The prime minister was addressing a world forum on the French language when a man walked to the front of the large room and yelled: "Stop Harper, stop Jean Charest."

The interruption lasted only a few seconds as the protester was quickly apprehended by security personnel and escorted out of the room.

Harper finished his speech before Charest, Quebec's premier, took the podium.

He was speaking during the conference's opening ceremony.

Around 1,500 delegates from around the globe are taking part in the event — which will discuss the future of the French language in the world.

Original Article
Source: CBC
Author: CP

Disrupting the pipeline business

It takes, by Glen Perry’s calculation, roughly $20 to defeat the law of gravity.

It works like this: Grab a flyback transformer out of an old colour TV. Attach two wires to it, and arrange them on either side of a piece of balsa wood.

Then, plug it in. And watch. Twenty thousand volts sizzle through the wires, which crackle like an overhead power line. Suddenly, “the thing starts rising in the air,” Perry says. And nobody knows why.

GlaxoSmithKline fined $3-billion in largest health fraud settlement in U.S.

GlaxoSmithKline LLC will pay $3 billion and plead guilty to promoting two popular drugs for unapproved uses and to failing to disclose important safety information on a third in the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history, the Justice Department said Monday.

The $3 billion fine also will be the largest penalty ever paid by a drug company, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole said. The corporation also agreed to be monitored by government officials for five years to attempt to ensure the company's compliance, Cole said.

Political patronage alive, well PM's - promised transparency missing in action

OTTAWA -- The ink was barely dry on the election results in 2006 when the newly minted Prime Minister Stephen Harper began to make good on an election promise to make federal appointments less politically motivated.

On April 20, 2006, Harper nominated the first appointments commissioner, who would head a new public agency to oversee the appointment of Canadians to hundreds of national boards, tribunals, review panels, judgeships and so on.

"The commission will provide the necessary oversight to ensure that the selection of individuals is based on merit and is done in an open and transparent way," Harper said in the news release crowing about the accomplishment.

Canada's ongoing project of Confederation

History is incorrigible. That's because we're forced to read it in reverse, from the now to the then, instead of the order in which it happened. That's why it often seems to make sense. Take the War of 1812. Looking back (as if we're on a ship or train), it seems to have worked out. Canada avoided absorption by what became a colossal, violent, rapacious U.S.; it became an independent, fairly harmonious place. But at the time? The U.S. was youthful, idealistic and egalitarian. It had a democratic constitution and a bill of rights! Britain -- our side -- was a class-ridden old empire, leading efforts in Europe to beat back the liberatory impulses still alive in Napoleonic France. We may have wound up on the "right" side but who could have known? History makes fools of us all and goes its own way.

Rick Scott Signals Florida Will Not Implement Two Health Care Law Provisions

WASHINGTON, July 1 (Reuters) - Florida will not implement two provisions of the U.S. healthcare law involving an expansion of Medicaid for the poor and creation of a private insurance exchange, Governor Rick Scott said on Sunday.

Two other states with Republican governors, Wisconsin and Louisiana, opted out of the two provisions last week in the wake of the Supreme Court decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

For-Profit College Regulations Struck Down In Part By Federal Judge

A federal judge has struck down central parts of hotly debated new federal regulations meant to rein in for-profit colleges that often leave students saddled with debts they cannot repay.

In a ruling released on Saturday, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras invalidated parts of the Obama administration's so-called gainful employment regulations, ruling that the Department of Education "failed to provide a reasoned explanation" in arriving at guidelines to assess students' ability to pay down loans after attending a career training program.

North Carolina Fracking: Governor Beverly Perdue Vetoes Bill

RALEIGH, N.C., July 1 (Reuters) - North Carolina Governor Beverly Perdue on Sunday vetoed legislation that would have lifted a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and opened the door to shale gas exploration in that state.

Perdue, a Democrat, said she supports shale gas exploration and fracking, but that a measure approved by the Republican-led legislature in June to permit the practices would not ensure adequate environmental protections.

Vladimir Putin Poll Shows Stark Russian Divide

MOSCOW -- The success and possible future undoing of President Vladimir Putin lies in the contrast between people like provincial housewife Yekaterina Arsentyeva and Moscow student Kirill Guskov.

In the southern city of Rostov-on-Don, Arsentyeva sees Putin as the only man who can ensure her children have a decent future. In the capital, Guskov can't hide his contempt for Russia's leader and the culture of corruption he has overseen: "A fish rots from its head," he fumes.

Spanking boosts odds of mental illness, Canadian researchers say

WASHINGTON — People who were hit or spanked as children face higher odds of mental ailments as adults, including mood and anxiety disorders and problems with alcohol and drug abuse, researchers said Monday.

The study, led by Canadian researchers, is the first to examine the link between psychological problems and spanking, while excluding more severe physical or sexual abuse in order to better gauge the effect of corporal punishment alone.

Dying Toronto lawyer has one last chance in battle against citizenship oath

Charles Roach estimates he has at least a year and a half left to live before brain cancer kills him.

The Toronto lawyer and activist has spent nearly 50 years in courtrooms, trying to win mostly human rights cases.

He wants one more victory before he takes his last breath.

Roach, who moved to Canada in 1955 from Trinidad and Tobago, wants to become a Canadian citizen. In the 1970s, he fulfilled the requirements to do just that.

New ridings set to benefit Tories

When British Columbia increases its number of MPs in Ottawa from 36 to 42 in the next federal election, odds are the prime beneficiaries will be the Conservative Party.

Last week, the Federal Electoral Boundaries Commission for B.C., a non-partisan three-member group, announced its proposal for how B.C.'s electoral map should be redrawn in order to accommodate the six additional ridings.

An analysis by The Sunday Province found that the five additional seats proposed for the Lower Mainland would have gone to the Conservative Party if they had been contested in 2011 election.

'Denounce Harper' Twitter-trending hot on Canada Day

OTTAWA — Canadians took to Twitter Sunday to praise the true north strong and free — but while some were tweeting the reasons they love this country, others were voicing their disdain for Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

#DenounceHarper began trending on Twitter early in the day, and was second only to #HappyCanadaDay across the country.

#YoSoy132: Meet the new social movement shaking up Mexico's election

MEXICO CITY - It was May 11, less than two months before Mexico's July 1 presidential election. Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico's Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), which ruled Mexico from 1929 until 2000, was well ahead in the polls. He strolled in to have a chat with some middle class students at the private Ibero-American University in Mexico City.

He expected an easy ride. After all, these weren't the rabble rousers from the National Autonomous University of Mexico. These affluent students would be tired of the ruling National Action Party (PAN), which had plunged Mexico into a drug war that had claimed over 55,000 lives. And they certainly weren't leftist supporters of the Party of the Democratic Revolution (PRD).

Protests against refugee health cuts part of an ‘increasing frustration’ with feds: CMA chief

Physicians, who have interrupted a number of ministers’ press conferences in recent days, are vowing to continue to confront Conservative MPs and Cabinet members on the impacts of cuts to the Interim Federal Health Program for refugees, and Canadian Medical Association President John Haggie says the recent public protests are part of an increasing frustration with federal disengagement on health care.

“We’re not going to keep quiet about it,” Dr. Haggie said of the IFHP changes. “It’s a matter of human compassion and suffering for a group of people who arrive with the clothes they stand in, regarding this as a safe place. If we’re going to take refugees, we have a responsibility to look after them. You can’t just cut them loose.”

Aboriginal incarceration in Canada a national shame

National Aboriginal Day, featuring activities in aboriginal communities across the country, was celebrated on June 21.  But as we honour aboriginal Canadians, we should always keep in mind a great injustice that continues to be perpetuated against them.  Incarceration.

First Nations children are more likely to go to jail than to graduate from high school, according to Shawn Atleo, national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Parliament passes new Copyright law; Geist says feds caved to U.S. on digital locks

Copyright legislation in Canada has finally been updated after two governments, four bills, and 15 years of debate, and while it’s long overdue and sorely needed, federal legislators could have done better, says Canada’s leading expert on copyright issues who criticized the federal government for caving to the United States on digital locks.

“You can’t overlook digital locks,” said University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist. “There’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that I think it represents both bad policy and it runs counter to what the government heard from tens of thousands of Canadians, and from the majority of the witnesses and was easily fixable, so it’s a huge disappointment that it wasn’t. That said, there is also I think a lot of good in this legislation. Those that would simply tar the bill as being awful, I think aren’t giving it a full fair read.”

Feds look to streamline $500-billion worth of investments in resource projects

As the federal government looks to streamline the approval of an estimated $500-billion worth of investment in 500 mining and energy projects over the next 10 years, industry and environmental groups say they will wait and see how new timelines under Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, will affect environmental assessments already underway.

Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, passed its third and final reading in the House of Commons on June 18, days after a 24-four hour marathon vote on 159 bundled opposition amendments.

Corbett should explain why he stepped down from robocalls investigation, say opposition MPs

William Corbett, the former commissioner of Elections Canada who retired on June 21 in the midst of the high-profile and politically-charged investigation of fraudulent pre-recorded calls and misleading live calls reported by voters in 200 ridings across the country in the last election, should publicly explain why he left the post for the integrity of the Office of the Commissioner of Canada Elections, says an opposition MP, but others say changing the head of the organization midstream is not problematic. 

Conservatives’ top lawyer has been counselling party for last decade

The federal Conservative Party’s top lawyer Arthur Hamilton, who was in Federal Court last week in Ottawa arguing against the Council of Canadians lawsuit to have the May 2011 election results overturned in seven narrowly-won Conservative ridings, is a busy man these days.

Mr. Hamilton, a partner in Toronto at Cassels Brock & Blackwell LLP, has been involved in more than a dozen high-profile legal battles since he was first hired to work for the Conservative Party in 2003.

Two unions move closer to biggest merger in Canadian labour history

The two unions contemplating the biggest merger in Canadian labour history have moved significantly closer to reaching that goal.

A special committee of the Canadian Auto Workers (CAW) and the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers (CEP) announced Friday they have reached agreement on structure, principles and financing, and are unanimously recommending the formation of a new union to their respective boards.

“The whole process is something like climbing Mount Everest,” said committee co-chairman Peter Kennedy. “We’ve reached the first base camp. It’s a critical point.”

Celebrations, demonstrations mark Toronto Pride Parade

They whistled, cheered and turned parts of downtown Toronto into a giant rainbow.

Thousands in colourful clothing streamed into the city’s core on Sunday for Toronto’s 32nd annual Pride Parade.

Many carried both the Canadian flag and the rainbow flag of the gay and lesbian movement, marking Canada Day and the end of the city’s Pride festival in one go.

Hong Kong’s malaise over China boils over

Fifteen years after Hong Kong slipped from Britain’s aging colonial grasp into the embrace of China, the crowded territory that was to be a signature example of Chinese forbearance is awash in political tension.

Despite lavish pomp and ceremony, anniversary celebrations of the July 1 handover were marred by numerous reminders that the people of Hong Kong are increasingly edgy over relations with their mainland Chinese overseers.

Tim Hudak’s Tory vision for a low-union, low-wage Ontario

Remember the Caterpillar catastrophe? That London factory closing marked a low point for Ontario early in the new year.

No lives were lost, just the livelihoods of 460 skilled workers when they rejected a humiliating demand to halve their wages. They were locked out, then laid off when Caterpillar relocated to a low-wage, right-to-work state.

Now, Ontario’s PC party is coming to Caterpillar’s defence — by branding the victims as the villains. Yes, blame the union — because big labour can’t see the Caterpillars marching.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

A few days ago, while awaiting the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Obama’s health-care law, I called a few doctor friends around the country. I asked them if they could tell me about current patients whose health had been affected by a lack of insurance.

“This falls under the ‘too numerous to count’ section,” a New Jersey internist said. A vascular surgeon in Indianapolis told me about a man in his fifties who’d had a large abdominal aortic aneurysm. Doctors knew for months that it was in danger of rupturing, but since he wasn’t insured, his local private hospital wouldn’t fix it. Finally, it indeed began to rupture. Rupture is an often fatal development, but the man—in pain, with the blood flow to his legs gone— made it to an emergency room. Then the hospital put him in an ambulance to Indiana University, arguing that the patient’s condition was “too complex.” My friend got him through, but he’s very lucky to be alive.

Mitch McConnell On 30 Million Uninsured: 'That Is Not The Issue'

WASHINGTON -- Republicans have said repeatedly that the landmark health care reform law, upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court last week, must be repealed and replaced. But the GOP leader in the U.S. Senate gave a surprising answer on "Fox News Sunday" when asked how Republicans would provide health care coverage to 30 million uninsured Americans.

"That is not the issue," Sen. Mitch McConnell said. "The question is how to go step by step to improve the American health care system. It is already the finest health care system in the world."

Facts Get in the Way of GOP's Fast and Furious Investigation

Have you been ignoring the Fast and Furious scandal? It’s okay. I will confess that for probably too long, I tuned out the brouhaha as just another tempest in the News Corp. teapot and relegated it to the dimly lit area of my brain where Bill Ayers, Vince Foster, Solyndra and others reside.

But with the House of Representatives voting Thursday to hold US Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt—the first time in American history this has happened—the story can’t be ignored any longer.

This Week in Poverty: 89,000 Children in Pennsylvania Lose Medicaid

Since August 2011, 89,000 children in Pennsylvania have lost their Medicaid coverage, including many with life-threatening illnesses who were mistakenly deemed ineligible. The state currently hasn’t a clue whether many of these children have any healthcare coverage at all.

How did this happen?

In late summer, the Pennsylvania Department of Welfare (DPW) began notifying hundreds of thousands of families by mail that they had ten days to provide necessary documentation in order to keep their children enrolled in Medicaid. If the family missed the deadline—or even if they met it but DPW failed to process the paperwork within the ten days—they were dropped from Medicaid.

Feds won't reverse cuts to heavy urban search and rescue

The federal government has no intention to reverse its decision to cut funding to the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP), which includes funding to heavy urban search and rescue units like the one called to Elliot Lake, Ont., after the roof of a mall collapsed last weekend.

In an interview airing Saturday on CBC Radio's The House, Candice Hoeppner, parliamentary secretary to the minister of Public Safety, told host Evan Solomon that it's now up to the provinces to take over that responsibility.

Canadians think government is too generous with aboriginals: poll

Canadians are frustrated with what they see as an endless flow of cash from federal coffers to Aboriginal People — with little to no results — according to an Ipsos Reid poll commissioned by Postmedia News.

On average, 64 per cent of those asked agreed with the statement "Canada's Aboriginal People's receive too much support from Canadian taxpayers." But attitudes vary across regions. The numbers who thought this were highest in Alberta and British Columbia (79 per cent and 74 per cent respectively), but lowest in Ontario and Atlantic Canada (55 per cent and 59 per cent respectively).

As well, 66 per cent - two-thirds - agreed that "Canada's Aboriginal Peoples are treated well by the Canadian government."

Top Tory senator asks that attendance rules be reviewed

The government leader in the Senate has asked the Standing Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration for a review of the rules about attendance in the upper chamber, days after Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau lashed out at a journalist who revealed he had the poorest attendance record for this session of Parliament.

In an interview airing on CBC Radio's The House, Conservative Senator Marjory LeBreton told host Evan Solomon she has asked the standing committee also known as the Internal Economy Committee to look into the number of days senators are allowed to miss and whether they ought to justify their absence, in light of what she called the "inappropriate" behaviour displayed by Conservative Senator Patrick Brazeau.

Harper’s Conservatives slide behind NDP in national poll

The federal New Democrats are leading in voting intention across the country.

A new poll from EKOS and iPolitics shows the NDP sitting at 32.4 per cent nationally. The Conservatives sit second, having slipped to 29.3 per cent support, followed by the Liberals at 19.2 per cent.

While the jump to first place is a big one for the NDP, the real story is not so much its progress, but the decline of Conservative Party support.

The National Post on union kids' camps: Threat or menace?

Confession time: Years ago I sat on the board of a church camp.

I sent my kids there. One year one of my daughters was a counsellor at the camp.

And at that camp, they taught those kids … and here comes the confession part … Christian doctrine!

Real Christian doctrine, too, stuff right out of the Bible about helping the poor, kindness to the imprisoned and letting he who is without sin cast the first stone.

This is not the sort of thing the raw-meat fundies who support the Wildrose Party and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's so-called Conservatives think of as being Christian at all. The Bronze Age rigours of the Old Testament are more to their taste.

Mr. Harper, come camping with me

Dear Prime Minister,

At last, the House is out! Summer’s here, and C-38 all-nighters are behind us. With 12 weeks of holidays waiting, I’d like to invite you and your family to join me on a journey into Canada’s wilderness. It’s a getaway that I’m confident will be good for you and, by extension, good for the country.

You’re busy, so let’s keep it short – just three days, a mini-sojourn from the ceaseless pace of the job. It’s the chance to take a deep breath, feel the wind on your cheeks and the sand between your toes.

White people, here’s your one-time Canada Day special: Native people apologize back!

Canada Day has always been a mixed bag for Canada’s native people. It makes us think of many things: patriotism, flags, sunburned cottagers, barbeques and exploding fireworks. That’s the good stuff.

For some, though, it’s a reminder that it was four years ago when Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to the first nations, Inuit and Métis inhabitants of this country for the imposition and effects of the infamous residential-school system.

Since then, much has been said and written about that apology: Did it go far enough? Too little too late? What’s next? That is something I am afraid only educated, wealthy white men in positions of power can decide.

In Greece, anti-immigrant Golden Dawn party rides wave of xenophobia

ATHENS—He doesn’t walk alone.

Not to his convenience store in the morning. Not to his apartment at night. Not anymore. When Tipu Sultan Mirza Mohamed moves, three or four fellow immigrants from Bangladesh move with him.


The Bangladeshis of Athens now travel in packs because the thugs travel in packs. In the last month, supporters of Golden Dawn, the virulently anti-immigrant far-right party whose logo is a modified swastika, have beaten, among many others, an Egyptian fisherman sleeping on his roof, two Algerians sleeping near a beach, a Pakistani man and Bangladeshi man walking in a subway station, and an Albanian standing on the street.

Woman says she was denied sedation for cataract surgery because of OHIP fee cuts

When Sharon Phillips was wheeled into the operating room at Oakville Trafalgar Hospital on Monday, she was prepped and ready to undergo cataract surgery.

When her ophthalmologist was about to start the procedure, 65-year-old Phillips nervously stopped him with a question: “Wait a minute, where’s the sedation?”

She was shocked to find out there wouldn’t be any, and then angered when reportedly told that it was because of recent OHIP fee cuts to “conscious sedation,” a procedure that involves an anesthetist giving intravenous medication for pain, anxiety or comfort. Patients stay awake but are dozy.

What is killing the dolphins in the Gulf of Mexico?

Strandings — when dolphins or other marine mammals wash up onshore, either dead or alive — are occurring at “unusual” rates in the Gulf of Mexico, worrying scientists.

From February 2010 to June 17 there have been 757 dolphin and whale strandings in the northern Gulf of Mexico, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Five per cent of the mammals stranded alive, while 95 per cent stranded dead, the federal agency reports.

Germany re-surfaces as Europe’s Imperial power

BERLIN—On a recent June evening, the annual music festival had overtaken Berlin, and the early summer blossoming of the ever-present linden trees had filled the streets with perfume. Hence the city, always alight with throngs of streetside young people drinking 60-cent beer, seemed especially alive. Happy. Distanced, let’s say, from the eurozone debt crisis — insolvency in one country, the bailout of another, stratospheric bond yields across the way.

In Friedrichshain, a hip neighbourhood in the former East Berlin, Hannah Horeis could be found enjoying a beer and a hand-rolled cigarette, chatting with her friend, Anna Enge, whose 3-month-old son, Conrad, was nestled into a baby Snugli and a deep sleep. The mise en scène screamed young intellectuals, especially Horeis, with her cool demeanour and serious gaze, that cigarette poised in mid-air.

Tories slash funding for young offenders by 20 per cent

OTTAWA—The Conservative government has slashed 20 per cent of federal funding for youth justice programs in Canada, cutting $35.6 million used to supervise and rehabilitate young offenders, the Star has learned.

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson made no mention of the drastic cut Wednesday in a news release that trumpeted “continued support” for the Youth Justice Services Funding Program.

It is a key federal initiative that has directly transferred money to provinces and territories to deliver services to troubled youth ever since the original Young Offenders Act was passed in 1985.

Instead, Nicholson said only that starting next spring, the Conservative government will “continue” to fund the program at $141.7 million annually.