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.]

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Canada's superiority complex: Are our banks really better?

Concerned about the increasing frequency of banking crises? Don't worry. Bad things can't happen to banks in Canada.

Certainly we are not Spain. Or Iceland. Or Ireland. Well, let's just say Europe more generally over recent years. Or, come to think about it, the USA with its subprime crisis and its major banks on the rails in the 2008 financial crisis.

Canada is smarter than all those other countries. Canadian banks are just better behaved than banks elsewhere, and in any case the extraordinary vigilance of Canadian banking regulators will protect us.

Election fraud update: They are at it again

Lawyers for the Conservative Party MPs in the seven ridings being challenged have filed motions asking that the applicants file security for the Conservative MPs’ costs for a total amount of $250,000! Today we learned that this motion will now be heard by the Federal Court of Canada on September 18th.

Essentially, this Conservative Party motion asks the Federal Court to require that the applicants pay this amount in full and upfront -- before the full hearings get underway this fall – as a security deposit should the applications fail and the Court award costs to the Conservative Party MPs.

Canada's emissions deception

The federal government released an updated Canada's Emission Trends 2012 report yesterday. In a remarkable shift in federal rhetoric just this past week, the Harperites now appear to be more sensitive to concerns about the Enbridge pipeline and climate change more generally. But appearances can be deceiving and there is good reason to believe the current charm offensive is just a recasting of business-as-usual in recognition of just how offside the government has been on climate file.

Here is Environment Minister Peter Kent in a speech delivered yesterday:

    Canada is now halfway to its target of reducing total greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020. This is the result of the Harper Government's realistic, sector-by-sector approach to greenhouse gas regulations that is reducing emissions, while continuing to create jobs and encouraging economic growth. Last year, we were one-quarter of the way to our goal. And now we're halfway there. This shows the significant progress we are making in meeting our Copenhagen commitment.

Canada’s trade gap widens, imports hit record

Canada’s trade gap widened again in June as imports grew to a record high, overshadowing a small bump in the value of exports.

The slight 0.2-per-cent rise in exports to $39.1-billion was not enough to match the 2.3-per-cent increase that pushed imports to their highest-ever recorded level of $40.9-billion, leaving Canada with a trade deficit of $1.8-billion in June, compared with $954-million in May, according to data from Statistics Canada on Thursday.

Stephen Harper: Then and now

Yesterday in British Columbia, Prime Minister Stephen Harper tried to sound a note of reason on the subject of the increasingly unpopular proposal to build 1100 kilometres of pipeline through the northern British Columbia wilderness between the Alberta oil sands and a proposed super tanker port in Kitimat, B.C. Here is what he said:

    “The only way governments can handle controversial projects of this manner is to ensure that things are evaluated on an independent basis scientifically, and not simply on political criteria,” Harper told reporters at an elementary school.

'I leave with only one regret': Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois resigns as co-spokesperson for CLASSE

Gabriel Nadeau-Dubois, co-spokesperson for CLASSE and the most recognizable face of the student strike which has captured the imagination of progressives the world over, has resigned.

"I am leaving, but the movement will continue. What I am quitting is not the mobilization, nor the struggle, nor the CLASSE: I am quitting my role as spokesperson. I will remain at your side, in the streets, and in our assemblies."

Profits on Carbon Credits Drive Output of a Harmful Gas

RANJIT NAGAR, India — When the United Nations wanted to help slow climate change, it established what seemed a sensible system.

 Greenhouse gases were rated based on their power to warm the atmosphere. The more dangerous the gas, the more that manufacturers in developing nations would be compensated as they reduced their emissions.

But where the United Nations envisioned environmental reform, some manufacturers of gases used in air-conditioning and refrigeration saw a lucrative business opportunity.

Gun Control After Wisconsin Shooting: 'Everyone Looks At The United States As Uncivilized'

WASHINGTON -- America appears to be tiring of the gun control debate, even as mass shootings continue to occur. The fervor that erupted after the shooting in a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. nearly three weeks ago has given way to what seems like a fleeting interest in Sunday's shooting at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wis.

The media seems ready to move on from that event. The questions posed to lawmakers and the Obama administration have not been as aggressive or sustained as they were in the wake of Aurora. The usual gun control advocates have re-aired their grievances with the current state of legislative affairs, but even they have acknowledged that the conversation is tired and the outlook is bleak.

The Biggest Mitt Romney Lie (So Far)

As you've probably observed already, Mitt Romney is a lie machine. Steve Benen at Maddow Blog has been tracking Romney's mendacity and the tally is usually 20-30 items per week. That's a lot, and Benen probably doesn't catch all of them.

Any normal human being has to work hard to lie that much. But Mitt Romney is doing it as a matter of campaign strategy, specifically as a way to fire up the gullible and desperate tea party base. By the time a Romney lie is fact-checked, it's already too late, and, besides, Romney supporters won't actually read/believe the fact-checkers who are obviously part of the liberal conspiracy to re-elect a communist Muslim. It's a strategy based on the maxim: "A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth can get its shoes on."

Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads

In 1983, Bill Bain asked Mitt Romney to launch Bain Capital, a private equity offshoot of the successful consulting firm Bain & Company. After some initial reluctance, Romney agreed. The new job came with a stipulation: Romney couldn't raise money from any current clients, Bain said, because if the private equity venture failed, he didn't want it taking the consulting firm down with it.

When Romney struggled to raise funds from other traditional sources, he and his partners started thinking outside the box. Bain executive Harry Strachan suggested that Romney meet with a group of Central American oligarchs who were looking for new investment vehicles as turmoil engulfed their region.

Hottest Month On Record: July 2012 Breaks 1936 Record For Lower 48 States

July 2012 was officially not only the warmest July on record, but also the warmest month ever recorded for the lower 48 states, according to a report released Wednesday by scientists at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center. The average temperature for the month came in at 77.6°F overall, which is 3.3°F higher than the 20th-century average, and 0.2°F warmer than the previous hottest month on record, which was July 1936, way back in the Dust Bowl era.

New "realistic" Port Lands plans revealed

The latest plans for Toronto’s Port Lands have been unveiled, and they include a little less parkland and bit more industrial port.

At a media briefing on Wednesday, officials from Waterfront Toronto and the city said they believe they’ve finally struck a balance between the existing industrial uses of the 1,000-acre harbour site and the grand vision for a naturalized mixed-use neighbourhood.

“We’re very, very happy with the results. We feel we now have an even better plan,” said John Campbell, president and CEO of Waterfront Toronto.

Newt Gingrich Defends Michele Bachmann Over Huma Abedin Claims

Newt Gingrich justified his support of Michele Bachmann's campaign against top Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin and other government employees on Wednesday, telling CNN's Wolf Blitzer that "American citizens have a right to have their members of Congress ask the question."

Gingrich, who wrote a column for Politico last month asserting his support for Bachmann and her Republican colleagues, further defended their anti-Muslim Brotherhood crusade, telling Blitzer that it's not out of bounds to question Abedin's alleged ties to the radical group.

Ohio Early Voting Cutbacks Disenfranchise Minority Voters

On Election Day 2004, long lines and widespread electoral dysfunctional marred the results of the presidential election in Ohio, whose electoral votes ended up handing George W. Bush a second term. “The misallocation of voting machines led to unprecedented long lines that disenfranchised scores, if not hundreds of thousands, of predominantly minority and Democratic voters,” found a post-election report by Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee. According to one survey, 174,000 Ohioans, 3 percent of the electorate, left their polling place without voting because of the interminable wait. (Bush won the state by only 118,000 votes).

After 2004, Ohio reformed its electoral process by adding thirty-five days of early voting before Election Day, which led to a much smoother voting experience in 2008. The Obama campaign used this extra time to successfully mobilize its supporters, building a massive lead among early voters than John McCain could not overcome on Election Day.

Paul Ryan? Seriously?

Of course Paul Ryan wants to be Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate.

The hyper-ambitious political careerist—who has spent his entire adult life as a Congressional aide, think-tank hanger-on and House member—is looking for a road up. And he is sly enough to recognize that, like Dick Cheney with George Bush, he could be more than just a vice president in the administration of so bumbling a character as Romney.

Ryan figured Romney out months ago.

The Real Problem With Welfare: It Stopped Helping the Poor

Mitt Romney has a new ad out accusing President Obama of attempting to "gut" welfare reform by letting states hand out cash to families that aren't working. At best, the claim seems to be some serious hyperbole surrounding the small kernel of truth that the administration wants to give states more leeway on how they move families into jobs. But hey, it's the summer, and campaigns need to fill air time, right?

Rather than dwell on this skirmish, let's remember the bigger picture about the current state of our welfare system, as captured in this graph from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. Remember how Bill Clinton promised to "end welfare as we know it?" Well, did he ever.

B.C. Homeless Farm Ordered To Evict Campers

A farm for homeless and drug addicted people on Vancouver Island has been told to evict its residents or face fines or legal action, two weeks after almost a dozen people began camping there in violation of local bylaws.

The Creating Homefulness Society bought Woodwynn Farm, in Central Saanich, near Victoria, to create a rehabilitation centre for homeless and drug addicted people three years ago.

Fire doused on offshore oil platform

A fire was extinguished Tuesday evening aboard a platform working in the offshore oil industry off Newfoundland, although no one was injured and damages were limited.

The fire broke out in a pump room aboard the SeaRose floating platform at the White Rose field after 5 p.m., about 350 kilometres east of St. John's.

Husky Energy said the vessel's fire response teams put it out, and that "the incident was contained to the firewater pump room."

The SeaRose is currently not in production. The vessel had recently returned to White Rose, the third oil field to go into production on the Grand Banks, following maintenance work in Northern Ireland.

Husky said the company is investigating how the fire started.

It's the second fire in the last few months on the FPSO. In May, a small fire broke out in a generator. No one was injured in that incident, either.

Original Article
Source: CBC
Author: cbc

Feather dust-up highlights Enbridge’s culture clash with first nations

The official with Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway pipeline walked into the Island Gospel Fellowship Church in Burns Lake, B.C., and got a face full of tiny feathers.

It was, the company understood, an act of hostility by the local Wet’suwet’en nation – perhaps even a death threat on a day of federal review hearings into the $6-billion twin-pipeline proposal. “These feathers covered the hair and clothing of the Northern Gateway representative targeted by this feathering incident,” Enbridge reported in a document filed with the National Energy Board. A member of the Wet’suwet’en then explained that local traditional laws against trespassers were “strictly enforced” and “punishable by death,” Enbridge wrote.

Politics vs. business for Harper in energy debate

Billions of dollars in sought-after Chinese investment and a market-launching energy megaproject are the unlikeliest of headaches for any government when the global economy is still wobbling on its axis.

But Prime Minister Stephen Harper has stopped cheerleading the proposed conduit for his ‘national priority’ to wean Canada off the U.S. as a single-source market for oilsands exports.

Charest denies interference in police investigation

Jean Charest has denied any intervention in a Quebec provincial police investigation of Eddy Brandone, a former treasurer of FTQ-construction, after a Radio-Canada report revealed a police surveillance operation was abruptly halted.

The Sûreté du Québec surveillance of Brandone was suspended after he was seen speaking with Charest, the French network's investigative program Enquête reported Wednesday, citing police sources.

Justice minister won’t call in federal prosecutors to investigate MP Dean Del Mastro’s fundraising

OTTAWA – It would be inappropriate to refer allegations of election fundraising irregularities against Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro to federal prosecutors, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson says.

The decision comes in a letter from Nicholson to federal NDP ethics critic Charlie Angus. Angus wrote to Nicholson in July, asking him to call in the RCMP and federal prosecutors to investigate unproven allegations that Del Mastro, the parliamentary secretary to the prime minister, had benefited from a scheme through which employees of his cousin were allegedly paid to make donations to his campaign.

Former DHS Analyst Daryl Johnson on How He Was Silenced for Warning of Far-Right Militants in U.S.

While many were shocked by the massacre at the Sikh temple, our guest, Daryl Johnson, had warned years ago that such an attack was imminent. While working as a senior analyst in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security in 2009, Johnson authored a report warning about the increasing dangers of violent right-wing extremism in the United States, sparking a political firestorm in the process. Under pressure from Republican lawmakers and popular talk show hosts, DHS ultimately repudiated Johnson’s paper. Johnson drew his conclusion on his 15 years of experience studying domestic terrorist groups — particularly white supremacists and neo-Nazis. "Leading up to this report … we received numerous accolades from law enforcement [and] intelligence officials, talking about the great work we were doing in the fight against domestic terrorism," Johnson says. "And then in lieu of the political backlash, the Department not only decided to stop all of our work, but they also disbanded the unit, reassigned us to other areas within the office, and then made life increasingly difficult for us." Johnson, now the owner of a private consultancy firm, has authored a new book, "Right Wing Resurgence: How a Domestic Terrorist Threat is Being Ignored."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Author: Sikh Temple Massacre is the Outgrowth of Pervasive White Supremacism in U.S. Military Ranks

Wisconsin Sikh temple shooter Wade Michael Page was open about his neo-Nazi views when he served in the U.S. military from 1992 to 1998. We speak to journalist Matt Kennard, who details the rise of the far-right radicals in the armed forces in his forthcoming book, "Irregular Army: How the U.S. Military Recruited Neo-Nazis, Gang Members, and Criminals to Fight the War on Terror," out next month. "Every base has its problem with white supremacists because they are allowed to operate freely," Kennard says. "This is not a problem that is specific to certain bases ... it’s all over the United States. It was all over Iraq and it’s all over Afghanistan.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Academic Who Knew Sikh Shooter Wade Michael Page Says Neo-Nazi Soldiers, Musicians Shaped His Hatred

Years ago, University of Nebraska Professor Pete Simi met and interviewed a white power musician who had served in the military specializing in psychological operations. On Sunday, it was that same man — Wade Michael Page — who attacked a Sikh temple in Wisconsin killing six worshippers. Page, who died following the attack from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, was an Army veteran with a long involvement in the neo-Nazi music scene. The military newspaper, Stars and Stripes, reports Page was steeped in white supremacy during his Army days and spouted his racist views on the job as a soldier. We speak to Simi about Page’s politics, the white-power music scene and Page’s time in the military. "[Page] started identifying with neo-Nazi beliefs during his time in the military [through] individuals who were active military personnel that were already involved in white supremacist groups," Simi says. "At the time that I had met him, he felt like his involvement in the [white power] music scene really gave him a lot of purpose in terms of how he could contribute to the larger white-supremacist movement. And in fact, that is what the [white power] music scene does."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

Aboriginal students: An education underclass

The two schools sit a mere five kilometres apart as the crow flies, in a rural stretch of Manitoba about four hours west of Winnipeg. Their soccer teams compete every spring. Their students groan over many of the same textbooks. But as the road from Rossburn Collegiate to the Waywayseecappo reserve school runs down a hill into a lush valley, it also crosses an invisible jurisdictional line that led to an egregious gap between native and non-native students.

Until about 18 months ago, a student in Waywayseecappo received about $7,300 in annual funding from the federal government, while a student at Rossburn Collegiate received about $10,500 from the provincial government. Then one day the disparity disappeared, poof, overnight.

Our Chinese oil sands -- Nexen could be just the beginning...

In June, the Alberta government launched a website publicly outing employers who haven’t paid their workers—an online hall of shame. Among these “deadbeat bosses,” as the media quickly dubbed them, the worst offender was a subsidiary of China Petrochemical Corp. (Sinopec), a Chinese state-owned oil giant. That same subsidiary, along with others, is facing charges after the deaths of two Chinese workers flown in to work on a site near Fort McMurray, Alta., in 2007. After much delay, the trial begins this fall.

Opposition MPs criticize government's War of 1812 ads during Olympics, 'smacks of militaristic jingoism'

PARLIAMENT HILL—Opposition MPs say Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government has crossed a line with its anniversary events marking the War of 1812—by buying costly advertising space to promote the militaristic anniversary through television coverage of young Canadian athletes competing at the Olympic Games.

The “Fight for Canada” images depicting Canadian and military heroes from the war sparked by a U.S. invasion of Canada 200 years ago have appeared frequently through CTV coverage of the Olympics, including the gritty soccer match between U.S. and Canadian women’s teams that sparked a storm of controversy and Canadian anger at disputed referee calls.

Sikhs have been living in fear of hate crimes since 9/11

As a Sikh Canadian, I had a dreaded feeling that one day a Sikh gurdwara somewhere in North America would be terrorized by bloodshed because of hate, fear and ignorance. And as we hear from the media coverage of the Wisconsin shooting, I’m not the only North American Sikh who felt this way.

Sikhs all over Canada and the United States have been living in fear since 9/11. Because we have brown skin and some Sikh men look like our Muslim brethren with their turbans and beards, hate crimes in our community persist despite our continued advocacy to raise awareness about the racism that we – and other communities, like Muslims – have experienced post-9/11.

China’s hot savings products raise concern about U.S.-style problems

The explosive growth of wealth management products in China is sounding alarms for observers who see a parallel between the opaque investments and the subprime mortgages that sunk the U.S. economy.

The products consist of packages of high-risk business loans that are sliced into pieces small enough to appeal to average consumers. They are sold through banks and carry attractive rates of interest – although poor disclosure means that most buyers have little idea what assets underpin their investment.

Ottawa bows to Alberta on emission rules

Ottawa will allow Alberta to use its own greenhouse-gas rules – rather than federal regulations being drafted – to corral the soaring carbon emissions of the oil sands, as the Conservative government moves to assure the energy industry that it will not take steps to slow the sector’s growth.

Industry and government sources say the federal regulations being drafted will essentially mimic one of the most controversial parts of Alberta’s greenhouse-gas regulations, placing limits on the emissions from each barrel of oil, but not on the sector – an approach that would clear the way for the oil sands to double production.

Ex-Tory candidate removed as Harper-appointed arbitrator in Canada Post-union dispute

The Federal Court has ordered the Harper government to find a new arbitrator in a lingering dispute between Canada Post and its biggest union.

In a decision released Wednesday, the court said arbitrator Guy Dufort’s previous work for Canada Post and history as a Conservative candidate in Quebec casts doubt on his impartiality.

Morgan Stanley To Pay $4.8 Million To Settle Price-Fixing Charges That Cost New Yorkers $300 Million

Aug 7 (Reuters) - A federal judge grudgingly approved Morgan Stanley's $4.8 million settlement of electricity price-fixing charges over activity estimated to have cost New York consumers about $300 million, turning aside claims by a major nonprofit that the accord let the bank off too easily.

The case, which also involved the electricity generator KeySpan Corp, was the first in which the U.S. Department of Justice said it tried to recover improper profit from a financial services company that used derivatives to foster anticompetitive behavior.