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, July 21, 2012

David Letterman On Fracking: 'We're Screwed'

On Wednesday night's "Late Show," host David Letterman took several minutes to share his thoughts on fracking. Scolding the "greedy oil and gas companies of this country," Letterman said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we're screwed."

Letterman drew attention to his concerns about water contamination as a result of fracking, saying, "The Delaware Water Gap has been ruined. The Hudson Valley has been ruined. Most of Pennsylvania has been ruined. Virginia, West Virginia has been ruined. Colorado has been ruined. New Mexico has been ruined."

Michael Bloomberg, NYC Mayor, Reacts To Colorado Shooting

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg called on President Barack Obama and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney Friday to detail their views to improve gun control in wake of the mass shooting at an Aurora, Colorado movie theater that left at least 12 dead and scores wounded. The suspected gunman, now identified as 24-year-old James Holmes, opened fire during a premier of "The Dark Knight Rises."

"You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be President of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country," Bloomberg said, referencing early morning statements from both Obama and Romney, during his weekly appearance on WORS radio.

Elizabeth Warren: 'Libor Fraud Exposes Rot At The Core Of The Financial System'

Elizabeth Warren jumped into a growing chorus decrying the massive Libor manipulation on Thursday with a scathing editorial in the Washington Post.

"The Libor scandal is more than just the latest financial deception to come to light. It exposes a fraud that runs to the heart of our financial system," writes Warren, a long-time Wall Street critic who is running for the U.S. Senate in Massachusetts.

"The Libor fraud exposes rot at the core of the financial system," Warren writes.

'We Can’t Afford It': The Big Lie About Medicaid Expansion

In his letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius rejecting the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Texas Governor Rick Perry tells a whopper. Expanding Medicaid, he writes, would “threaten even Texas with financial ruin.”

Texas has the highest rate of uninsured residents in the country (25 percent), and it stands to enroll some 1.8 million new Medicaid recipients through the expansion. These are some of the poorest people in America, making less than 133 percent of the federal poverty level (just $31,000 a year for a family of four). In the first six years of the expansion, from 2014 to 2019, the total cost of insuring these Texans would be about $55 billion—not an inconsiderable sum. But the federal government would pay more than 95 percent of that amount; Texas’s share would be just $2.6 billion. That’s not chump change—but threaten Texas with financial ruin? Not by a long shot.

Colorado Shooter Likely Got Guns With Ease

This morning, as the country digested the terrible events that unfolded in Aurora, Colorado, overnight—where a gunman killed twelve people and wounded 59 others in a packed movie theater—New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg immediately called for a renewed conversation on gun control. “You know, soothing words are nice, but maybe it’s time that the two people who want to be president of the United States stand up and tell us what they are going to do about it, because this is obviously a problem across the country,” he said. “There are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop.”

The usual suspects raked Bloomberg over the coals for “politicizing” the shootings, which is nonsense. When there are plane crashes, we talk about flight safety. When there are wildfires, we talk about fire prevention. Terrorist attacks beget huge (often over-reactive) conversations about security measures.

How the NRA Pushed the Right to Pack Heat Anywhere

Ever thought about stashing a loaded Glock in your jacket and carrying it into a bar for a little extra protection? In Ohio, thanks to a new state law, you're now free to do so. All you need is a permit.

Ever since Ohio implemented a "concealed carry" law in 2004—allowing the possession of a hidden, loaded handgun in public—changes in state legislation have made it increasingly easy for people to carry guns around. This year, Ohio lawmakers decriminalized having a concealed gun in a bar or restaurant that serves liquor, provided gun-toting patrons don't drink any alcohol. Concealed guns are now allowed in bars, cars, public parks, and parking lots—and today, more than a quarter-million Ohioans have the permits needed to carry them there.

35 Mass Murders Across America in 30 Years

It's perhaps too easy to forget how many times this has happened. The horrific mass murder at a midnight screening of The Dark Knight Rises in Aurora, Colorado, on Friday is the latest in an epidemic of such gun violence over the last three decades. Since 1982, there have been at least 35 mass murders* carried out with firearms across the United States. We have mapped them below, including details on the shooter's identity, the date of the event, and the number of victims injured and killed. We do not consider the map comprehensive (and there are countless incidents of deadly gun violence in America, of course). We used the following criteria to identify incidents of mass murder:

Military Chopper Used For Labrador Fishing Trip

Labrador MP and federal cabinet minister Peter Penashue says he's disappointed that the Department of National Defence permitted a military helicopter to be used for a fishing trip in Labrador.

"I think that it sends the wrong message," said Penashue. "But at the same time I recognize that we hadn't put anyone at risk." "It doesn't help the image, particularly with what we just went through with search and rescue on Labrador."

A photo posted on Facebook on shows a yellow search and rescue helicopter parked on the shore with five people in the water. They appear to be fishing.

Northern Gateway Pipeline Improvements: Enbridge Proposes $500 Million In Changes To Project

CALGARY - Enbridge Inc. is proposing to spend up to $500 million to change the design of its Northern Gateway pipeline in a bid to address safety concerns of aboriginal groups and others.

The project, which had a $5.5-billion pricetag before Friday's announcement, has been the focus of intense debate among local communities, environmental groups and politicians.

Corman Park, Saskatchewan, Sees 36-Per-Cent Property Tax Hike

SASKATOON - Some residents of a rural municipality in Saskatchewan are predicting a tax revolt after officials in Corman Park approved a property tax increase of 36 per cent.

Reeve Mel Henry says it has to be done because the proper planning wasn't done over the years to keep up with the infrastructure.

He says the RM is on the hook to decommission the South Corman Park landfill at a cost of $2 million.

Ratepayer Gary Derenoski says his taxes have gone up from $1,460 in 2010 to $2,750 this year.

He says there has to be better communication with council.

The rural municipality, which has a population of about 8,400 in the rural area surrounding Saskatoon, has an annual budget of about $14 million.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: CP

Fate Of Guergis Lawsuit Against Harper Now In Judge's Hands

The lawsuit against Prime Minister Stephen Harper by his former cabinet minister Helena Guergis is now in the hands of a judge who will decide whether it will live or die.

Arguments on both sides wrapped up Friday morning in an Ottawa courtroom on the third day of a hearing to determine whether Harper’s motion to have the lawsuit struck down should be granted.

Christy Clark toughens pipeline stance as Enbridge announces safety upgrades

Premier Christy Clark toughened her stance Friday on the Northern Gateway oil pipeline, saying the controversial proposal poses too much environmental risk for British Columbia while not offering enough economic benefits.

Clark’s comments came the same day Enbridge promised to add $500 million in safety improvements to its proposal, which the company said is meant to address concerns raised by first nations and the public. First nations in northern B.C. were quick to say the additional safety measures would not alter their opposition to the 1,150-kilometre pipeline between the Alberta oilsands and Kitimat, however.

Class action launched against Elections Ontario over missing voter information

A province-wide class action has been launched against Elections Ontario regarding the loss of personal information of up to 2.4 million Ontario voters.

Ontario’s chief electoral officer announced this week that two memory sticks containing copies of personal information collected from voters in 20 to 25 ridings went missing in April.

The lawsuit seeks, among other things, financial compensation for any individuals whose personal information has been lost.

Racism nightmare

There was a BMW SUV parked outside the house, the earnest reporter told us on the radio earlier this week, following the shooting of more than 20 people, and the killing of two at a Toronto party.

But surely the reasons for urban shootings are poverty, lack of air-conditioning, too few basketball courts, racism and a history of oppression.

Whoops, scrap the last reference, because if we mention race, the people out there to whom we lie on a constant basis will realize that gun crime is often the result of black gangsters fighting over drug turf, respect, or simply because they’ve nothing better to do.

The era of cheap food and fuel may be at its end

I took my old sailboat down the Ottawa River to Montreal for the jazz fest this summer, and had an idyllic, sun-dappled holiday, with only about five minutes of rain the whole time.

After locking through the Seaway, around Montreal, we turned around at Ile Sainte-Helene and motored up upstream to the old port, passing under the Jacques Cartier bridge through the Courant Sainte-Marie, where the current runs five nautical miles an hour.

Bureaucrats found flaws in oilsands study for European Parliament: Memos

OTTAWA — Energy policy advisers at Natural Resources Canada who worked closely with an oil and gas lobby group advised the federal government that there were "numerous flaws" in a scientific study used by the European Union to justify climate change policies that would single out fossil fuels from Alberta's oilpatch, internal government memos obtained by Postmedia News have revealed.

The critique of the study by Stanford University Engineering professor Adam Brandt questioned his use of Canadian government methodology to estimate the global warming footprint of heavy oil from Alberta's oilsands region, while he used what they believed were less stringent criteria to evaluate other fossil fuels.

By going after Galliford, Mounties are fighting dirty again

The women who have stepped forward to launch sexual harassment lawsuits against the RCMP got a taste of what they’re in for this week.

The force filed a statement of defence in response to allegations made by Corporal Catherine Galliford, who first went public with her claims last year. Her move prompted other female Mounties, some current, some retired, to come forward with their own stories of on-the-job abuse.

Kenney blasted for linking Toronto gun violence to 'foreign gangsters'

OTTAWA - Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is being blasted for stigmatizing Caribbean Canadians after he linked recent gun violence in Toronto with "foreign gangsters."

Kenney took to Twitter to say he agrees with Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, who wants anyone convicted of gun crimes to be expelled from the city permanently.

"I agree w/ Mayor Ford: foreign gangsters should be deported w/out delay," Kenney tweeted late Thursday. "That's why we've introduced Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act."

The Tories are doing Mulcair’s work for him

Can Stephen Harper pull it off again in 2015? That’s the question many Canadians are already asking themselves. The Conservatives’ winning strategy was to define the election as a choice between “the stable, familiar, competent economic management of the Conservatives and the instability and economic ruin that would follow from a Liberal-led coalition backed by socialists and separatists,” as outlined by Woolstencroft and Ellis in The Canadian Federal Election of 2011. The Harperites have been smugly confident they can repeat 2011’s majority against the even more vulnerable “socialists” of Thomas Mulcair.

Conservatives make themselves look bad in Robocalls case

With politics the adversarial sport it has become, it’s no wonder the Conservatives are putting up as strong a legal defense as they can muster against the Council for Canadians’ court challenge, which seeks to overturn election results in seven close ridings that the council says were influenced by Robocalls.

And part of putting up the strongest defense possible is moving to have your accusers’ lawsuit thrown out of court before it even gets started — for procedural reasons and/or (the “and/or” pops up a lot in motions to dismiss) for lack of merit.

Poaching in Harper's backyard

CALGARY -- Could a long-term Conservative riding next door to Stephen Harper's seat in the federal party's heartland of Calgary go any other direction than back to the right in an upcoming byelection?

The apparent absurdity of the question is what makes the prospect all the more tantalizing for opposition parties, which are spoiling for an upset in a province that has behaved strangely moderate in recent civic and provincial elections.

When longtime moderate Conservative Lee Richardson announced on May 30 he would be stepping down in Calgary Centre to become principal secretary to Premier Alison Redford, he was just the latest Tory to tend a riding that -- through evolving boundaries -- has been in the hands of one conservative brand or other since it came into existence in the mid-1960s.

Defence spending is a blur of mismanagement

Can anybody shoot straight in the Defence Department when it comes to buying equipment?

What’s been going on with defence purchasing represents a mix of snafu and scandal. Delays, cost overruns and general embarrassment define far too many projects. Typically, however, no ministerial heads roll, nor do senior military people get demoted or fired. Instead, bafflegab from junior ministerial press aides and unintelligible and unintelligent mutterings from ministers have been the order of the day.

Where to start? This week, the country’s leading defence journalist, David Pugliese, revealed that at the very last moment, the Harper government pulled away from a contract for 1,500 trucks it had announced in 2009. Why? Because Defence had added so many new elements to the trucks that the cost of the contract had soared to between $730-million and $800-million from its previously announced $430-million price tag.

Convention Centre delirium: Politics, economics, development and hallucinations

The crowds were streaming into Halifax's Neptune Studio Theatre; the lobby was packed, the house filled to overflowing -- standing room only. Another runaway hit at Nova Scotia's premier theatrical venue? Unfortunately not. Instead it was a veritable orgy of self-congratulations on the part of Halifax's business and political elite, chuffed to the point of exploding at the announcement that the proposed new Halifax Convention Centre would finally break ground within 30 days towards a completion date of early 2016. The rat-infested, concrete-lined hole in the epicentre of the Halifax development universe will finally rise into the glass and steel edifice henceforth to be known as The Nova Center. Buried, literally, beneath this hotel, residential, commercial, and office-tower complex will be a new convention center for the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM).

Baskin-Robbins and the Walmartization of ice cream

It's been an unusually hot summer, and soaring temperatures have boosted sales of that quintessential summer food, ice cream. But Baskin-Robbins has decided to shut its production facility in Peterborough, Ont., and lay off 80 workers because of...wait for it... increased demand!

From the department of "wait, what?" here's the scoop behind this brain-freeze-inducing decision.

Baskin-Robbins, home of 31 flavours (one for each day of the month), brought in $1.8-billion in sales from its 6,777 outlets around the world last year. Same-store sales rose by an impressive 9.4 per cent in the first quarter 2012, and that's before the heat wave.

Nora Young and The Virtual Self

The Virtual Self: How Our Digital Lives Are Altering the World Around Us
by Nora Young
(McClelland & Stewart,

Are you alive or simply a stream of data? According to Nora Young, author and host of CBC Radio's trends and tech show Spark, we could already be well on our way to becoming a strange hybrid of both.

Young is one of Canada's new technology philosophers; a woman who likes wearing two very different hats. The first hat is that of the exuberant geek who clearly loves gamboling through the rapidly changing new media landscape. The second hat is worn by a concerned Cassandra, the Greek goddess famous for her gift of prophecy, but cursed because nobody listens to her.

Report back from Day Two of the Assembly of First Nations - Election Day

For news coverage of Tuesday's campaign for AFN Grand Chief including candidate platforms, please see this link: Activist Communiqué: Assembly of First Nations elections, a report from day one.

Voting day for the next Grand Chief of the Assembly of First Nations began at 9:00am on Wednesday. July 18, with first round voting results expected around 12:30 pm.

All eight candidates had made their platform speeches on Tuesday and spent the night actively lobbying the chiefs and their proxies for their support.

Some speculative truth about Canada’s new gun crime

After incidents involving gun crime, such as this week’s violence in Toronto, I often get asked to speculate about the problem. What are the shooters thinking when they open fire in a crowded shopping mall or at a neighbourhood barbecue? Why do they do it?

I usually respond by pointing out that this problem of pistolized criminality is relatively new to Canada, then ask for the funding and access to do proper research. Pistolization takes hold when cultural meanings are favourable to it, and we need to do more to understand the problem if we’re to develop successful policy responses.

Ottawa throws wrench in Khadr repatriation

The Harper government has thrown up a new roadblock to returning convicted al-Qaeda terrorist and murderer Omar Khadr to Canada.

The Conservatives, who have delayed a decision on bringing home Mr. Khadr for nine months, now say the U.S. must first hand over raw video footage of psychiatric interviews with the Guantanamo prisoner – one of which was conducted by an expert for the prosecution who testified the Canadian posed grave risks if freed.

Global Warming's Terrifying New Math

If the pictures of those towering wildfires in Colorado haven't convinced you, or the size of your AC bill this summer, here are some hard numbers about climate change: June broke or tied 3,215 high-temperature records across the United States. That followed the warmest May on record for the Northern Hemisphere – the 327th consecutive month in which the temperature of the entire globe exceeded the 20th-century average, the odds of which occurring by simple chance were 3.7 x 10-99, a number considerably larger than the number of stars in the universe.