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, September 20, 2012

RCMP called in after defence union stickers pasted to windows of MacKay’s riding office

Defence Minister Peter MacKay’s office is being accused by union officials of acting heavy-handed after the RCMP were called in to deal with pro-defence union stickers put on the windows of the cabinet minister’s Nova Scotia constituency office.

But MacKay’s office says they weren’t the ones who called police.

The tension between MacKay and the union has increased over the past several days after the Union of National Defence Employees staged a rally outside the minister’s New Glasgow, N.S., constituency office on the weekend.

Fight against Northern Gateway pipeline gains star power

A leading conservation group has recruited a phalanx of well-known Canadians to join its fight against the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, in a bid to counter past claims by the Harper government that many pipeline opponents are “radical” activists.

World Wildlife Fund Canada has signed up Canadians ranging from former Olympic hockey team captain Scott Niedermayer to author Joseph Boyden and economist Jeff Rubin, all of whom have agreed to publicly oppose the pipeline.

Former PM says Canadians will return to Liberal party Read it on Global News: Global News | Former PM says Canadians will return to Liberal party

TORONTO - Former prime minister Paul Martin says he's confident the federal Liberals will rebound but he's not going to speculate about who should lead the party.

"The Liberals occupy the middle and the ground is there for us," Martin said Thursday. "You've got a very far right government in office and I don't think Canadians are there. I also don't think Canadians are going to look to the NDP and that extreme. We are the only people who are speaking to the middle."

Kimberly Rivera, U.S. Soldier And War Resister, To Be Deported Today

TORONTO - An American soldier who sought refuge in Canada after she became disillusioned with the Iraq war has been ordered to leave the country by today.

Kimberly Rivera has said she will comply with the Canadian government's deportation order and leave the country with her family, but that hasn't stopped her supporters from hoping for a last-minute intervention.

Nexen CNOOC Takeover: Shareholders OK Buyout Bid As Poll Shows Canadians Oppose Move

UPDATE: A vast majority of Canadians oppose the takeover of energy firm Nexen by the Chinese state oil company, CNOOC, according to a new Abacus Data poll done for Sun News.

    The poll found 69 per cent of Canadians opposed to the transaction, with only eight per cent of respondents saying they back the deal. Seventy-three per cent of respondents said they felt uncomfortable with Chinese companies buying Canadian natural resources firms. But more than half -- 53 per cent -- said they were unaware that a state-owned Chinese was trying to buy a Canadian resource firm until they were asked about it in the poll.

CETA: Ontario To Lose Jobs, See Manufacturing Shrink Under Canada-EU Free Trade Deal, CCPA Says

Ontario would lose tens of thousands of jobs, see the decline of its manufacturing sector accelerate, and would need to be more dependent on natural resources under a free trade agreement with the European Union, says a new report from a left-leaning think tank.

The report from the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) also says health care would become considerably more expensive in the province under the rules of the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), as the Canada-EU free trade proposal is known.

Mayor Ford pressed city on repairs to road outside family business

Mayor Rob Ford called senior staff to his office this summer to request unscheduled road improvements outside his family-owned business in time for its 50th anniversary bash.

The job, completed before the August celebration at the Etobicoke headquarters of the Ford family’s Deco Labels and Tags, cost the city between $7,000 and $10,000, staff estimate.

Christy Clark to avoid legislature, tour province in lead-up to B.C. election

Premier Christy Clark is dismissing the B.C. Legislature as an “enclosed bubble” to be avoided this fall as she tours the province in a bid to connect with voters ahead of the 2013 election.

As Ms. Clark announced an expansion of skills training in the province on Wednesday, she told reporters to expect many more such announcements in the months ahead. The legislature was expected to sit during that period, but House Leader Mike de Jong said members of Ms. Clark’s newly shuffled Liberal cabinet will be out meeting voters instead.

Ministers won’t comment on questions raised at Gateway hearings

EDMONTON - Alberta’s provincial government won’t comment on questions raised at the Northern Gateway pipeline hearings, such as whether foreign ownership is acceptable to Albertans or whether Enbridge is vastly underestimating the projected cost of cleaning up spills.

A lawyer for a B.C. First Nation suggested at the National Energy Board’s regulatory hearing that the economic benefit of the pipeline has been significantly overstated.

Libyan mission racked up $11M in hotel bills

When the Royal Canadian Air Force deployed over Libyan skies, its pilots bedded down safe and sound in hotels in Sicily.

In fact, all Canadian troops there in support of the UN-backed mission in Libya were booked into hotels — an initially ad hoc solution that lasted for nearly nine months and cost taxpayers millions of dollars.

CBC News has learned the Armed Forces likely spent about $11 million on hotel bills, which amounts to more than 10 per cent of the military's $103 million total cost of the mission.

Tory MPs put end to Commons committee inquiry into AG’s report on F-35s

PARLIAMENT HILL—Conservative MPs are putting an end to a Commons committee inquiry into Auditor General Michael Ferguson’s scathing report on the government’s controversial plan to spend $25-billion on 65 F-35 stealth fighter jets.

NDP MP Malcolm Allen (Welland, Ont.), who mounted the party’s filibuster through several meetings that were held in-camera at the government’s insistence, said the official opposition is satisfied it aired unofficial testimony in August from critics of the program, who spoke at a “roundtable” discussion of the F-35 procurement in a Centre Block committee room.

Ford on Chicago trip: 'Toronto is an easy product to sell'

Mayor Rob Ford returns to Toronto today after wrapping up a two-day trade mission to Chicago that he says was a big success.

The goal of the trip was to generate increased trade and business opportunities between the two cities, but there were no immediate dividends — no deals were signed and no firm commitments made by Chicago businesses.

Chinese $15B Nexen oil takeover approved by shareholders

Nexen Inc. shareholders have overwhelmingly voted in favour of a takeover of the Calgary-based energy company by China National Offshore Oil Company.

Some 99 per cent of common shareholders voted in favour of CNOOC's $27.50-per-share cash offer, and 87 per cent of preferred shareholders did so.

Because of the premium that CNOOC was offering, shareholder approval was largely a formality. But the $15.1-billion takeover still requires approval by the Canadian government under the Investment Canada Act.

Iranian woman may be deported and stoned to death — despite new evidence in her case Published on Wednesday September 19, 2012 Share on twitter Share on facebook FAMILY PHOTO Fatemeh Derakhshandeh Tosarvandan, 40, pictured with son Hessam Hafezi Mashhadi, 16, faces deportation to Iran next week

A woman from Iran is facing deportation next Wednesday despite new evidence proving she faces an adultery charge there that, under sharia law, could result in her being stoned to death.

Critics say the case of Fatemeh Derakhshandeh Tosarvandan, whose claim for asylum was rejected last October, calls into question whether harsh new restrictions on refugee claims breach Canada’s Charter of Rights.

“The average Canadian would be horrified to know that we’re going to send a woman to Iran to be stoned for adultery,” said Tosarvandan’s lawyer, Lisa Winter-Card. Ironically, Canada recently suspended relations with Iran on the grounds that it is a state sponsor of terrorism.

The 47 Percent, In One Graphic

hereMitt Romney's comments regarding the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income tax is getting lots of attention today. Our colleague Mark Memmott explains the context.

Here's a closer look at the numbers.

As of the latest accounting, it's actually just over 46 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center (PDF). Here's how that breaks down.

Canada’s first female war resister slated to be deported Thursday

Former U.S. Army Pvt. Kimberly Rivera is posing for a photo with her husband and four children on the double bed that all but fills the living room of their one-bedroom Parkdale apartment.

They are surrounded by kids’ art, hanging by clothes pegs from a string across one wall. Their only seating — a couch — lines another wall, facing a television in the middle of the room.

The Riveras don’t have much in the way of possessions.

4 key reasons why BC’s carbon tax is working

British Columbia’s carbon tax shift was raised by $5 on July 1, four years after it was first initiated by the government.

Has the plan worked and how will the new increases impact the economy?

Sustainable Prosperity, a University of Ottawa-based research network, thinks the first four years “have had a positive environmental impact without harming the [BC] economy.”

Mystery of the disappearing bees: Solved!

If it were a novel, people would criticize the plot for being too far-fetched – thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace, the bodies of the victims are never found. Only in this case, it’s not fiction: It’s what’s happening to fully a third of commercial beehives, over a million colonies every year. Seemingly healthy communities fly off never to return. The queen bee and mother of the hive is abandoned to starve and die.

Thousands of scientific sleuths have been on this case for the last 15 years trying to determine why our honey bees are disappearing in such alarming numbers. “This is the biggest general threat to our food supply,” according to Kevin Hackett, the national program leader for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s bee and pollination program.

Peter Lougheed's Radical Legacy

As Canada's inept Tory politicians now salute the remarkable achievements of Peter Lougheed, they tellingly omit his radical views on resource development.

And that should come as no surprise. Unlike the current libertarian "strip it and ship it" crowd that governs most of the west, Lougheed stood for something different. He offered a farsighted vision that was both progressive and altogether conservative. Although everybody from Saskatchewan's Brad Wall to Alberta's Alison Redford now praise the famously competent premier, none walk his talk.

Canada's Economic Diversity Fading, Economist Says

Canada’s economic diversity is fading, according to a commentary released Wednesday.

“It’s likely that the early days of Confederation were one of the only periods where the percentage of investment dedicated to natural resource extraction was as high, or higher, than it is today,” Will van‘t Veld, an economist with Edmonton-based bank ATB Financial.

Mother Jones Reporter David Corn on Revealing the Secret Romney Video That’s Upended 2012 Campaign

Mother Jones reporter David Corn joins us to discuss how he released the now notorious video of Mitt Romney telling a crowd of wealthy donors in Florida that he does not worry about the 47 percent of Americans who are "dependent" on government and see themselves as "victims." Romney’s comments have divided Republicans, with some saying he should stand by his statements and others suggesting he should renounce them. The Washington bureau chief for Mother Jones, Corn is also the author of "Showdown: The Inside Story of How Obama Battled the GOP to Set Up the 2012 Election."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Northern Gateway Pipeline Hearings: Not Enough Research To Estimate Environmental Cost Argues Lawyer

EDMONTON - Enbridge hasn't done enough research to properly estimate the environmental cost of its proposed $6-billion Northern Gateway pipeline and has even worked to block studies from being done, hearings into the proposed project heard Wednesday.

"They haven't done the studies that are necessary to truly understand the impacts of these projects on coastal First Nations and the ecosystems they rely upon, not only for salmon, but for all the resources along the whole of their territories," said Brenda Gartner, who represents aboriginal groups along the British Columbia coast.

Can we save democracy from Harper’s abuses?

As Stephen Harper continues his relentless assault on our democratic institutions and traditions, growing numbers of Canadians are wondering if the prime minister can be stopped — and if so, how?

Given the Conservative majority in Parliament, it may seem impossible to prevent Harper from running roughshod over our democracy.

Encouragingly, though, people across Canada are starting to fight back. They are doing it in small ways, in classrooms and weekend workshops, on websites and at coffee parties, by writing letters and even joining a knitting campaign.

U.S. veterans call on Canada to let war resister Kim Rivera stay

We are writing you on behalf of thousands of military veterans in the United States who believe that Kimberly Rivera and her family should be allowed to remain in Canada.

As a U.S. soldier, Kimberly Rivera spent six months in Iraq where she witnessed the injustice caused by illegal U.S. war. Home on leave in the U.S., she decided that she could not in good conscience continue to be part of the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Kimberly Rivera drove to Canada hoping to find a safe haven for herself, her husband, and their two young children.

The Commons: The Harper government fully embraces satire

The Scene. The Prime Minister wasn’t present for Question Period this afternoon. He had a photo op to attend to. As a result, it was Peter Van Loan’s responsibility to stand and lead the Conservative response this day. History will make notice of this only because it was under Mr. Van Loan’s leadership today that the Harper government fully embraced a satirical approach to political discourse.

After two Conservative MPs had been sent up to mouth this month’s talking point—Rick Dykstra deserves special mention for managing to accuse the NDP leader of both not backing down on cap-and-trade and not sufficiently defending it in the House—Thomas Mulcair stood and ventured his own version of events.

Watchdog group questions MP trip to Guatemala

A trip by five Canadian parliamentarians to Guatemala at the invitation of Canadian mining giant Goldcorp has drawn questions from a mining industry watchdog group over lobbying regulations.

The group MiningWatch said the recent report to the lobbying commissioner does not provide enough detail about the trip. At the end of August, a senator and four MPs boarded the company's jet in Ottawa for the three-day trip.

NDP working toward balance as it crafts new foreign policy

The NDP is quietly working on a foreign policy that won’t scare off Canadians.

It has to decide whether trade is good and China is bad. Or at least, for their electoral hopes, NDP members have to find an approach to those things, and the world, that doesn’t make Canadians nervous about them running the country.

Liberals go on the attack after Harper says they stand for nothing

The federal Liberals may enjoy watching Conservatives accuse New Democrats of favouring a carbon tax but the third party in the Commons has not been immune this week to government attack messaging – specifically accusations that it stands for nothing.

On Monday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper brushed off Liberal questions in the House of Commons by saying: “The one difference between the NDP and the Liberal Party is at least the NDP brings bad ideas to this debate, whereas the Liberals bring none.”

Americans For Prosperity, Funded By Koch Brothers, To Hold NY Protest Against 'Occupy Wall Street Mob'

An activist group founded by the notorious Koch brothers is holding a demonstration in Midtown tomorrow to voice its opposition to President Barack Obama’s economic policies and to stand up to the “Occupy Wall Street mob,” according to a press release.

Activists from Americans for Prosperity plan to protest tomorrow morning outside the Time-Life building as part of group’s Failing Agenda Bus Tour, which is devoted to urging President Barack Obama to shun policies that increase the nation’s debt. Despite the group’s billionaire backers, the AFP describes itself as a grass roots organization. It has more than 2 million supporters nationwide.

Chicago Teachers Strike Suspension Sends Students Back To School, But Budget, Layoff Questions Loom

CHICAGO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of Chicago students returned to school on Wednesday after a teachers' strike ended, thrilling parents who had struggled with child care but shifting the debate to hard questions about budget deficits, school closures and teacher layoffs.

At the doorstep of John H. Vanderpoel Elementary Magnet School on the city's south side, children lined up on a sunny and chilly morning to wait for doors to open for the first time in nine days.

"Mommy, I've got to go to school," yelled Kimberly Watson's kindergartner as she pulled her mother toward the door.

Daryl Metcalfe, GOP Lawmaker: If People Are Too 'Lazy' To Get Voter ID, Pennsylvania Can't Fix That

Daryl Metcalfe, a Pennsylvania state House member who originally sponsored the state's voter ID law that is currently in legal limbo, said on a local radio station Wednesday morning that the state shouldn't be responsible for people who are too "lazy" to obtain the needed ID.

"Ultimately, the burden isn't on the state to make sure every individual does what they need to get their ID card. I mean, individuals have certain responsibilities in securing their ID," the Republican lawmaker told Pittsburgh radio station KDKA, in a clip circulated by the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. "They have to present the documents needed. The state doesn't have that burden. I think the individual does, and ultimately it's a great travesty of justice to violate the rights of millions to have their legally cast vote protected for the special interests of a few individuals that are too lazy to get out there and get done what they have to to get their ID card."

Interest Rate Manipulation Extends Far Beyond Libor, Secret Survey Reveals

Interest rates all over the world are mostly made up.

That's the verdict of a new study by the International Organization of Securities Commissions, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg. It found that more than half of the benchmark lending rates in the U.S., Europe and Asia are "calculated by methodologies that were unclear, not transparent and only rarely subject to specific regulatory standards or obligations." Less than half of all benchmark lending rates, in contrast, were based on actual market transactions.

Mitt Romney Offers Full-Throated Attack On Obama's 'Redistribution'

Mitt Romney, facing fallout from leaked videos showing him at a May fundraiser saying that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent on government" and view themselves as "victims," attacked President Barack Obama over a 1998 video pushed by the Drudge Report and purportedly showing him favoring "redistribution."

"He [Obama] really believes in what I’ll call a government-centered society. I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America," Romney said Wednesday at an Atlanta fundraiser. "There’s a tape that came out just a couple of days ago where the president said yes he believes in redistribution. I don’t. I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others but to create wealth for all."