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, September 08, 2012

Global Economy Faces 'Perfect Storm' With Eurozone Crisis, 'Fiscal Cliff,' Slowdown, Iran Conflict

CERNOBBIO, Italy -- Experts and leaders gathered in Italy may disagree on the cure, but the malady seems clear: the world economy faces a "perfect storm" of risks that include prolonged crisis in a structurally flawed Europe, political paralysis pushing America off a "fiscal cliff," a slowdown in the emerging economies drying up the last of global growth, and the spectacularly destabilizing prospect of war over Iran's nuclear program.

A world of such unpredictable peril is also one in which jitters suppress the appetite for private and corporate risk, yielding meager investment and low consumption and prolonging the woes that snuck up on a booming world in the summer of 2007 as a "credit crunch", mushrooming a year later into the Great Recession.

Putin Leads Endangered Cranes in Hang Glider

In the end he didn't have to wear a beak. But Vladimir Putin did don white overalls and big black goggles as he took to the skies over northern Siberia in a motorized hang glider to help endangered cranes begin their migration to wintering grounds in Iran and India.

Unfortunately, no one had told the young birds, who only formed up behind Russia's stunt-loving head of state on his second time in the air. On his first flight Putin was accompanied by only one of the Siberian white cranes.

RCMP Censorship? Mounties Ask Reporters To Submit Questions In Advance Of Event Honouring U.A.E. Officer

ST. JOHN'S, N.L. - A request that media submit questions to Newfoundland RCMP ahead of an event honouring female police officers from various parts of the world has been criticized as inappropriate in this country.

RCMP in St. John's sent an email to journalists inviting them to the event next week that will celebrate a woman from the United Arab Emirates as police officer of the year.

Gun Show Regulations In Canada: Conservatives Repeal Rules Aimed At Sponsors

OTTAWA - Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has put a bullet in long-deferred regulations that would have tightened sponsorship rules for gun shows.

Toews says the Conservative government will repeal the 1998 regulations, which were set to come into force this November after being deferred on 10 separate occasions by Liberal and Conservative ministers.

Quebec Language Laws: Graham Fraser, Federal Language Commissioner, Keeping Close Eye On Quebec After PQ Win

CALGARY - Canada's languages watchdog issued a warning to Quebec's new minority government Friday, saying he is keeping a close eye on moves toward toughening the province's language laws.

Graham Fraser, a former journalist from Quebec who literally wrote the book on the history of the newly elected Parti Quebecois, says he wants to make sure any changes Pauline Marois makes don't run afoul of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Not all the same — Obama’s Democrats starkly different from Republicans

His lead gone in the national polls, but still ahead in most of the swing states that will decide the election, Barack Obama gambled on playing it safe in his acceptance speech. It isn’t just the soaring rhetoric of 2008 that was absent: so was the vision, the ideas, the change, and the hope.

Chastened, perhaps, by the slowness of the economy to respond to his first-term prescriptions, the president declined to offer any new ones for his second term. In a sense, this was prudent. Were he to propose a change of direction now, it would be an admission of failure: if these are such good ideas, his critics would ask, why didn’t you propose them before?

Closure of Kitsilano coast guard base will cost lives, report proves: union

A confidential report on the risks of closing the Kitsilano coast guard base shows lives will be in danger if the closure goes ahead.

Calling the report “explosive,” Mayor Gregor Robertson said it “clearly states a high risk of increased fatalities due to the Kits Coast Guard base closure. And that’s a massive concern for all of us in Vancouver.”

City council is awaiting a staff report detailing the impact of the closing on resources like police and fire boat operations, Robertson said. Once that report is available, the mayor and council will consider their next move.

By cutting ties with Iran, we just shot ourself in the foot

The boxy red-brick building on Metcalfe Street looks more like a medium-security prison than an embassy, and its air of menace extends beyond its architectural design and impenetrable gates.

Iranian Canadians have long believed that Tehran’s outpost in Ottawa is used to spy on their activities, in less than subtle ways, and occasionally to send intimidating messages to expats.

Ex-Canadian ambassador questions cutting ties with Iran

As the Canadian government closes its embassy in Iran, a former ambassador to the country is questioning why Canada is cutting ties at a time when the international community needs more information about the country, not less.

John Mundy, a retired Canadian diplomat who was posted in Iran in 2007, said ending communication with the country could be a strategic misstep that undermines Canada’s role as an international player in the international peacekeeping effort preventing Iran from acquiring and deploying nuclear weapons.

Tory MP under fire from labour leaders over push for union dues law

OTTAWA — One of Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s veteran ministers will be a casualty if the Conservatives target the Canadian union movement, a B.C. labour leader warned Friday.

Pierre Poilievre, an Ottawa-area Tory MP furious that a union representing federal employees endorsed separatists in the Quebec election, said this week he’ll push for a new law allowing union members to opt out of paying union dues.

Harper meets with Putin at APEC summit

Prime Minister Stephen Harper had a one-on-one meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday at the APEC summit.

The prime minister's bilateral meeting with his host came two days after Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird expressed Canada's disapproval of Russia's continued support of Syria's Assad regime with his counterpart Sergey Lavrov.

Religious freedom office nearly ready for debut

The federal government's long-awaited Office of Religious Freedom will be unveiled soon, officials say, after months of delays caused by difficulty in finding the right person to head the office.

The new body, which will be housed within the Department of Foreign Affairs, was expected to be up and running earlier this year.

NDP questions Tory ties to Oshawa Port Authority, ethanol plant and stevedore

OTTAWA - The federal New Democrats are raising fresh questions about Conservative ties at the newly created Oshawa Port Authority, the company building an ethanol plant on the waterfront and now the business that loads and unloads ships in the harbour.

The port authority's board of directors recently approved a proposal to build an ethanol refinery on Oshawa's harbour, despite opposition from the city's council.

New Conservative senator warns EI reform will drive down wages

One of five new Conservative senators recently penned a detailed criticism of Ottawa’s Employment Insurance reforms, warning they will drive down wages.

Writing in Le Devoir in June, economist Diane Bellemare argued against the Conservative government’s plans in a column entitled Employment Insurance reform: the incoherence of the federal government.

'Green Square' leader renounces tuition hikes, endorses free education

If nothing else, Karo Baillargeon certainly seems to have a knack for getting noticed. The former President of the Mouvement des Étudiants Socialement Responsables du Québec (MÉSRQ), otherwise known as the Green Squares, a Liberal attempt to astroturf support for their tuition increase among students, has had a tumultuous few months.

She was briefly a candidate for the Quebec Green Party, before being fired for refusing to support the party policy of free education, and went on to support Option Nationale before casting a strategic vote for Quebec Solidaire in her riding of Outremont.

Fool’s Gold?

As the Republican Party mulls a return to the gold standard, American economists are pointing out the pitfalls.

The gold standard is a monetary system where a country’s currency is pegged to a fixed amount of the precious metal. The U.S. abandoned the system decades ago, but this year’s Republican platform contains a promise to establish a “commission to investigate possible ways to set a fixed value for the dollar.” It’s a proposal with few supporters in the world of economics. University of Chicago economist Anil Kashyap explains why.

What has prompted Canada’s move against Iran?

Although his swearing-in at Rideau Hall must have happened in the dead of night, Canada appears to have a new foreign minister. His name is Benjamin Netanyahu. His day job may be prime minister of Israel, but Canada’s abrupt actions against Iran seem to confirm that the Harper government’s outsourcing of Canada’s Middle East policy to Jerusalem is now complete.

There is little else to conclude from Canada’s unwise decision to move unilaterally on Iran at this moment. All sorts of crucial issues are in play with Iran. They involve the future of its nuclear program, the impatience of Israel’s leadership to attack Iran, the shape of a new Middle East as the heinous Syrian regime implodes and several delicate life-and-death issues involving Canadians on death row in Iran. Surprisingly, Western nations have held together on how to approach these key challenges — except, now, for Canada.