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.]

Friday, October 12, 2012

Romeo Dallaire Slams Harper's Foreign Policy

Canada’s Senate is supposed to be a house of “sober second thought,” but as far as Liberal senator, retired general and widely -decorated war hero Roméo Dallaire is concerned, when it comes to foreign policy Prime Minister Stephen Harper isn’t giving either part of Parliament a second thought at all.

From closing the Canadian embassy in Iran to taking its time to repatriate Omar Khadr, Harper's Conservative government has failed to engage Parliament and Canadians, according to Dallaire.

“They announce new policies all over the place before they even introduce them in the House of Commons, let alone the Senate,” Dallaire told The Huffington Post Canada after a recent speaking engagement at Free the Children’s We Day youth rally in Toronto. “[Harper] holds more power than the President of the United States in his country, and because we’ve been strong on convention, and not on written decrees or documents, it permits someone who doesn’t want to play by those rules to have all kinds of room to manoeuvre. And this is what we are seeing now.”

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author:  Joshua Ostroff

Harper says he must weigh national security in China ties

Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the national-security angle to Canada’s relationship with China is something his government takes very seriously.

The remarks Friday came amid renewed concerns about Chinese espionage and also as Harper faces a major decision on an oil-industry takeover by a state-owned Chinese company.

Six Nations protests lack of school supplies, still waiting for answers from the federal government

Parents, students and allies arrived at the Toronto office of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada (AANDC) Thursday morning because Six Nations schools still aren’t receiving the necessary funding and supplies guaranteed under treaty agreements.

Under Article 91, Section 24 of the British North America Act of 1867, the federal government has education funding responsibilities.

“And that means all of us are affected,” said Steve Watson, retired staff member, Canadian Auto Workers Union. “Not just Six Nations people. Not just indigenous people.”

Election USA 2012: The death of hope and change?

Did you see the U.S. presidential debate last week? For anyone looking to be uplifted and inspired by the Obama the world fell in love with in 2008 it was hard not to be dismayed by what we saw.

This is the same guy who got the Nobel Peace Prize just for his campaign speeches. I think we Canadians actually said we would vote for Obama over any Canadian candidates running for prime minister in one poll that was done. But in the first debate Obama was anything but inspirational. At his best he just seemed annoyed with Romney and the whole thing, but then he appeared to let Romney get away insulting the progressive values he once championed.

Norway to double carbon tax on oil industry

Norway is to double carbon tax on its North Sea oil industry and set up a £1bn fund to help combat the damaging impacts of climate change in the developing world.

In one of the most radical climate programmes yet by an oil-producing nation, the Norwegian government has proposed increasing its carbon tax on offshore oil companies by £21 to £45 (Nkr410) per tonne of CO2 and a £5.50 (Nkr50) per tonne CO2 tax on its fishing industry.

Pennsylvania Fracking Law Opens Up Drilling on College Campuses

Last year, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested offsetting college tuition fees by leasing parts of state-owned college campuses to natural gas drillers, more than a few Pennsylvanians were left blinking and rubbing their eyes. But it was no idle threat: After quietly moving through the state Senate and House, this week the governor signed into law a bill that opens up 14 of the state’s public universities to fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining on campus.

The Romney-Ryan Plan to Obliterate Medicaid

Barrels of ink have been spilled over Medicare during this year's campaign. There's nothing wrong with that: Obama and Romney have fundamentally different approaches to Medicare and they deserve attention. Romney, for example, wants to increase the eligibility age to 67 and convert Medicare into a voucher system that relies primarily on competition between private firms to rein in costs. That's a big change. At the same time, the actual differences in what the two candidates would spend on Medicare is fairly modest. This is more a fight over means than ends.

A Tragic Sense of Life: Remembering Two Great Historians

Within five days of each other, the English speaking world's two greatest historians to have emerged from the Marxist tradition have died: Eugene Genovese, on September 26, and Eric Hobsbawm, the man whom Genovese described as "the strongest influence on my work," on October 1.

Genovese's subject was the masters and slaves of the antebellum South. The subjects of Hobsbawm books ranged from Latin American bandits to jazz (we shared a great affection for the now-closed jazz club Bradley's, on University Place in New York; I introduced him to Smalls, a tiny club in a basement on Tenth Street that kept extremely late hours), but his most lasting masterpiece is his magisterial multi-volume history of the "long nineteenth century" (1789-1914) -- The Age of Revolution, The Age of Capital, and The Age of Empire - -that the London Observer famously described as "part of the mental furniture of educated Englishmen."

Syria Crisis: Turkey Scrambles Fighter Planes To Border

HACIPASA, Turkey, Oct 12 (Reuters) - Turkey scrambled two fighter planes to the border with Syria on Friday after a Syrian military helicopter bombed the Syrian border town of Azmarin, a Reuters witness said.

There has been intense fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces this week in Azmarin and neighbouring towns, an area strongly opposed to President Bashar al-Assad's rule.

The Enemy of My Enemy Is My President

Maybe I have been too harsh in judging Barack Obama's economic performance. Instead of following George W. Bush's lead in bailing out the bankers first, I wanted Obama to do more for beleaguered homeowners and less for the Wall Street swindlers who trafficked in toxic mortgages. But the president must have done something right, or the hucksters at Goldman Sachs wouldn't hate him so.

Ever since Bill Clinton appointed Goldman honcho Robert Rubin to be his Treasury secretary, the firm has been the top corporate supporter of the Democrats, according to the authoritative Center for Responsive Politics. And the investment paid off big time when Clinton followed Rubin's lead and teamed up with congressional Republicans to reverse the sensible restraints on Wall Street that had kept the economy sound for six decades. Thanks to that decision, Goldman, a high-rolling investment house, was allowed to suddenly become a commercial bank and avail itself of the cheap money provided by the Federal Reserve to bail out troubled banks.

Chairman Harper and the Chinese Sell-Out

By Nov. 1 three of China's national oil companies will have more power to shape Canada's energy markets as well as challenge the politics of this country than Canadians themselves. And you can thank Prime Minister Stephen Harper for this economic treason.

The new agreement will not only support more foreign takeovers of Canada's natural resources, but pave the way for CNOOC's dramatic $15-billion purchase of Nexen.

Horror Stories: Mitt Romney's Shameful Record with Mormon Women

As Mitt Romney tries to redraw himself as a moderate in the final days of his Etch-A-Sketch candidacy, some troubling stories from his career as a Mormon leader outside of Boston can't be erased. In this excerpt from an investigative report for Metro Silicon Valley, award-winning journalist Geoffrey Dunn chronicles Romney's treatment of Mormon women while he served as a bishop and "stake president" in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Massachusetts.

West Virginia Mountaintop Removal: How Coal Mines Have Changed The Appalachian Way Of Life

When mining companies level West Virginia mountains to get at the coal beneath, whole towns disappear. When a Michigan power plant burns coal to make electricity, it triggers asthma attacks among children living nearby. When coal ash blows onto a Paiute reservation in Nevada, elders die. Sierra asked people across the land to describe how the world’s dirtiest energy source has disrupted their lives— and what they’re doing to stop it.

Mountaintop removal mines in Appalachia have demolished an estimated 1.4 million acres of forested hills, buried an estimated 2,000 miles of streams, poisoned drinking water, and wiped whole towns from the map. Lindytown, West Virginia, once home to dozens of families, is now an isolated, lonely place, with only one original family remaining. Everyone else sold out to Massey Energy (now Alpha Natural Resources), which was laying waste to a nearby mountain. West of Lindytown, a mountaintop removal mine caused the population of Blair to fall from 700 people in the 1990s to fewer than 50 today, according to the Blair Mountain Heritage Alliance.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: --

Meredith Boucher, Former Walmart Employee, Awarded $1.49 Million For Mistreatment

As Walmart workers across the country participate in the company’s first-ever retail worker strike, one former employee’s dispute with the big box store comes to a close.

Meredith Boucher, a former Walmart assistant manager in Canada, was awarded $1.49 million after suing for mistreatment in the workplace, the Calgary Herald reported. Boucher said she was the victim of verbal abuse for six months by her store manager in Winsor, Ontario three years ago. She was awarded more than she had originally sued for, according to the Calgary Herald.

Richard Milhous Ryan: No Specifics, Just a 'Secret Plan'

Richard Milhous Nixon said in 1968 that the war in Vietnam was the critical concern of that year’s presidential contest, the one issue that had to be addressed by the candidates. And he addressed it with a “secret plan” to end the war. No details during the campaign, the Republican nominee for president explained; voters just needed to trust him and he would cut the right deals once elected.

Expanding the VP Debate: Third-Party Candidates Challenge Biden & Ryan on War, Economy, Healthcare

Our "Expanding the Debate" special series continues as we open the discussion to include two third-party vice-presidential candidates who were excluded last night from the "official" debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan: Cheri Honkala of the Green Party and Luis Rodriguez of the Justice Party. With the general election just weeks away, Biden and Ryan squared off in their only debate Thursday night, aggressively challenging each other on foreign and domestic policy issues asked by moderator Martha Raddatz of ABC News. Raddatz pressed them with questions on the deaths of Americans at the U.S. embassy in Libya, taxes, Medicare, Social Security, the budget deficit, terrorism and Afghanistan. Raddatz also asked each of the candidates, both of whom are Catholic, about how their personal beliefs affect their views on abortion. Romney’s personal wealth came up, but many issues were missing, including poverty, global warming, immigration, gun control and the country’s staggering incarceration rates. Democracy Now! poses many of these same questions today to Honkala and Rodriquez in order to bring new voices into the discussion. Democracy Now! first broke the sound barrier during the presidential debate on Oct. 3 by pausing after answers offered by President Obama and Mitt Romney to get real-time responses from Jill Stein of the Green Party and Rocky Anderson of the Justice Party.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Alison Redford Rejects E. Coli Public Inquiry Call By Union For Beef Recall

EDMONTON - Alberta Premier Alison Redford has rejected a call for a public inquiry into an E. coli scare that prompted a massive recall at a southern Alberta beef packer.

Speaking in Red Deer before her premier's dinner, Redford said it's more important to learn from what happened at the XL Foods plant in Brooks.

She said the province needs to work with the federal agriculture minister, the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and XL Foods to see what needs to be improved.

Doug O'Halloran, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 401, said Wednesday that an inquiry was needed to examine the problems that led to the tainted meat.

The food inspection agency has announced that XL is being allowed to resume limited processing of carcasses already at the plant.

But no meat will be shipped out until inspectors are confident that E. coli control measures are being followed.

Original Article
Source: huffington post
Author: The Canadian Press

Tariq Ali: European Union Awarded Nobel Peace Prize Despite Ties to NATO, Crippling Austerity Cuts

The European Union was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize earlier today for its historic role in uniting the continent. Committee chair Thorbjoern Jagland praised the EU for transforming Europe "from a continent of wars to a continent of peace." The selection surprised many as it comes at a time when much of Europe is facing an economic crisis that threatens the EU’s future. Just this past week, thousands of Greeks protested in Athens against a visit by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has pushed Greece, Spain and Ireland to enact deep austerity measures. For more, we go to London to speak with Tariq Ali, political commentator, historian, activist and editor of the New Left Review. "My initial response was to burst out laughing, because this Nobel Peace Prize committee, basically run by clapped-out former politicians in Norway, never fails to amuse and disappoint," Ali says. "To give the prize to the European Community at a time, effectively, when economically it is promoting unemployment, creating real class divides in virtually every country in Europe, where it has led to enormous violence on the streets of Greece, because of the policies being pushed by the EU ... it’s a complete and utter joke."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: ---

How Dalton McGuinty can undo the welfare legacy of Mike Harris

Mike Harris quit as premier a decade ago, but he never really left the lives of welfare recipients: Social assistance today is more or less unchanged since the Harris Tories targeted their cheques for downsizing and downloading in the mid-1990s.

Next week, welfare gets a rethink. It’s the culmination of an ambitious poverty reduction strategy that began four years ago, and everything is on the table — except for more money.

Is the Harper government really the champion of crime victims?

Look through the press releases on the Public Safety website and it won’t be long before you find some reference to crime victims and how the Harper government is on their side. Whether it was Bill C-10, the huge omnibus crime bill that only mentioned victims a handful of times or announcements about building new prison cells or not building new prisons, it’s clear that the Harper government wants us to believe they are the only government that has done anything for victims.

The most recent example is Bill C-37, the Increasing Offenders’ Accountability for Victims Act. The bill, if passed, will remove a judge’s discretion to waive the Victim Fine Surcharge and it doubles the amount. The money raised from surcharges goes directly to provinces who are supposed to use it to fund services for victims.

Canada-EU trade deal could prove awkward for NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair

MONTREAL—NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair has so far navigated skillfully between a volatile Quebec electorate; a party establishment that partly shunned his leadership bid last spring and a Canadian public that has yet to be sold on the New Democrats’ economic competence.

But the task of juggling three constituencies whose respective support Mulcair cannot take for granted may be about to become a lot more challenging.

Former Nortel exec warns against working with Huawei

Canadian companies should not work with Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, a former security adviser at Nortel warns.

Brian Shields, who was the senior systems security adviser at failed Canadian telecommunications company Nortel, says working with Huawei is too big a risk. Shields alleges Huawei spent years hacking into Nortel's system and stealing information so it could compete with Nortel on world markets.

Harper government goes back to negotiating table over Sea King replacements

OTTAWA - The Harper government is once again re-negotiating the contract to replace the air force's outdated Sea King helicopters, The Canadian Press has learned.

Senior officials at Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., maker of the CH-148 Cyclone helicopter, recently told financial analysts the company is bargaining with Public Works to "reach agreement on an alternative contractual solution" for the troubled program, already five years behind schedule.

Prisoner self-injury on the rise in Canada

Incidents of federal prisoners slashing, burning, banging their heads and choking themselves behind bars have more than tripled in the last five years.

Figures obtained by CBC News Network's Power & Politics under Access to Information show a dramatic rise in cases of self-inflicted injuries and suicide attempts — and reveals the biggest spikes in regions where overcrowding, violence and gang proliferation are most acute.

B.C. victim of cyber-bullying commits suicide

VANCOUVER—A 15-year-old girl who posted a video on YouTube about being cyber-bullied to the point of depression has committed suicide — a tragic ending that has sparked online outrage and a message from B.C. Premier Christy Clark.

Amanda Todd first posted her video in September in which she used flash cards to tell her story about crying every night and suffering anxiety, depression and panic disorder.

Barack Obama, Mitt Romney will both offer energy relief to the Harper government

Kevin Redding spent Thursday up a tree.

From his perch at the West End Nature Preserve outside Mt. Vernon, Tex., he was the latest symbolic face of a battle that has never ended in the United States — the fight over the construction of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline.

But because the 22-year-old Austin, Tex., man is literally up a tree, he is also a good metaphor for the conundrum facing the environmental movement in the U.S. after Nov. 6.