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, November 01, 2012

Paul Krugman On Fiscal Cliff: Republicans 'Holding America Hostage'

America is facing a fiscal cliff and Republicans are threatening to push us off, according to Paul Krugman.

"The fiscal cliff issue reflects GOP intransigence," The New York Times columnist wrote Wednesday in his 'Conscience of a Liberal' blog, "they’re holding America hostage, saying — more or less explicitly — that if they can’t have what they want but can’t pass, they’ll tank the whole economy."

On FEMA, Inequality and the Need for Better Government

I interrupt my regularly scheduled cultural blogging to offer this: I, for one, am not at all shocked to hear Republicans saying extraordinarily moronic things about disaster management even as the ravages of Sandy are still upon us here in New York. The early favorite for gold, I think, is Congressman Steve King, of Iowa, with his statement, in an Iowa debate, that he wants a clear inventory of what disaster money will be spent on, because Katrina victims “spent it on Gucci bags and massage parlors and everything you can think of—in addition to what was necessary.” Where he got that spectacular impression from, no one is quite saying. Did some reporter somewhere mark a $20 and follow it down the Gucci-black-market rabbit hole? Every second that ticks by whatever ill-sourced, ideologically motivated piece of “journalism” that fact may have come from—if it came from one at all—gets shoved down into Google’s seventh hell, where I am happy for it to remain.

Tax Evasion: Canada Doing Less Than Other Countries To Catch Rich Tax Cheats, Critics Charge

Canada is doing less than many other countries in going after tax cheats, and honest taxpayers are getting stuck with the bill as wealthy Canadians get away with evasion, opposition critics are charging.

Hoang Mai, the NDP’s national revenue critic, says the government’s $250 million in budget cuts to the Canada Revenue Agency will make an already bad situation with tax evasion even worse.

Conservative Support Dips In New Poll As Three-Horse Race Takes Shape

A new poll shows Canadians are split three-ways on who they would vote for if an election were held today, with no more than five points separating the leading party from third place.

The survey conducted by Forum Research for The National Post, interviewed 1,735 respondents via interactive voice response. A completely random sample of this size has a margin of error of +/- 2.4 per cent, 19 times out of 20. It's somewhat unusual, however, that the poll was conducted on a Saturday (Oct. 27).

Soldier injured in Afghanistan fought uphill battle for compensation

Daniel Scott was nearly killed during a training exercise in Afghanistan in 2010, when metal balls from a mine that exploded by mistake ripped through his chest, fracturing a rib, collapsing his left lung and damaging his kidney, spleen and pancreas.

The Surrey native, then 24, was airlifted to a field hospital in Kandahar, during which time a friend who was injured alongside him died as Scott held his hand. Surgeons removed Scott’s left kidney, his spleen and part of his pancreas, but he had lost so much blood the doctors didn’t hold out much hope, his father Jim Scott said.

If Ottawa says no to China on Nexen deal there'll be a price to pay: experts

OTTAWA - Canada can expect a chilly reception and damaged relations with Beijing if the Harper government dents China's pride by refusing a $15.1-billion bid for a piece of this country's oilpatch, observers say.

And other foreign investors will have occasion to pause if state-owned China National Offshore Oil Corp. is blocked in the friendly takeover of Calgary-based Nexen, they add.

Those investors would question Ottawa's commitment to open markets and the government would take political heat — from both supporters and opponents of the decision — for once again not having a clear strategy for dealing with foreign takeovers.

Crown agrees to bail for businessman with Conservative ties

A lawyer for the federal justice department agreed to let fugitive businessman Nathan Jacobson out on bail on Wednesday in spite of a warning from a confidential informant that earlier led police to arrest him.

Jacobson, who was close to federal cabinet ministers, was arrested by Toronto police last Thursday for extradition to the United States after he failed to show up for sentencing this summer for a 2008 money laundering conviction.

Parliament Hill reno costs quietly soar above billion-dollar mark

OTTAWA - The cost to repair Parliament Hill's crumbling West Block has quietly passed the billion-dollar mark, newly released documents show.

The revised work estimate for the heritage structure appears on a single line of the federal public accounts for the fiscal year 2011-12, released this week.

The price tag for the renovation has soared since 2005, when Treasury Board approved $769 million to restore the building.

FIPPA and the Brave New World: What's behind the secretive Canada-China deal?

One great myth of the West during the post World War II and Cold War periods -- and for a number of years after the Cold War -- was that democracy and capitalism were intimately connected.

Democracy, the myth went, happened where there was "free enterprise." Capitalism was either a pre-condition to free and democratic political institutions, or an inevitable and natural corollary of them.

Well, 21st Century China has given the lie to that myth.

An open letter to Stephen Harper: Canada - China FIPPA abrogates rights of Indigenous people

Prime Minister Harper:

On behalf the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, we are writing to firmly express, advise and direct the Government of Canada to reject the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement with China as the Government of Canada has breached its fiduciary duty to consult First Nations on our respective constitutionally-enshrined and judicially-recognized Aboriginal Title, Rights and Treaty Rights.

Till marriage fraud do us part: More changes to Canada's immigration rules

Fresh off efforts cracking down on "bogus refugees," Immigration Minister Jason Kenney turned his eye to "bogus unions," declaring on October 25, 2012 that the jig on marriage fraud is over.

For several years now the Conservative majority has deemed marriage fraud a serious threat -- one that has steadily moved from calamity to catastrophe, attacking the very integrity of our immigration system.

Conservatives on House Public Accounts Committee striking out references to PBO testimony in draft report on F-35s

PARLIAMENT HILL—Government MPs on a Commons committee that probed the auditor general’s critical report of the government’s F-35 stealth fighter jet acquisition have been striking references to testimony from Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page out of a draft report from its hearings, The Hill Times has learned.

The Hill Times was told of the Conservative refusal to include evidence at the House Public Accounts Committee from Mr. Page, who sounded alarm bells about undisclosed costs in the planned $25-billion F-35 acquisition just prior to the 2011 federal election, after the panel spent its seventh straight meeting apparently deadlocked over what to report from the eight hours of evidence it heard before the government ended the F-35 hearings in June.

David Rohde: Superstorm Sandy Has Exposed New York City’s "Hideous Inequality"

We continue our coverage of Superstorm Sandy by looking at how it has impacted an economically divided New York City, especially in Manhattan, where the the richest fifth make 40 times more money than the poorest fifth. Inequality in Manhattan rivals parts of sub-Saharan Africa. We’re joined in New York City by Reuters journalist David Rohde, whose new article for The Atlantic is "The Hideous Inequality Exposed by Hurricane Sandy." Rohde writes: "Those with a car could flee. Those with wealth could move into a hotel. Those with steady jobs could decline to come into work. But the city’s cooks, doormen, maintenance men, taxi drivers and maids left their loved ones at home." Rohde is a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a former reporter for the New York Times.

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Collection agency harassed debt-free Canadians

Employees of one of Canada's largest debt collection agencies, iQor Canada, have routinely and sometimes knowingly contacted people who did not owe debt, a practice for which the company has been fined several times this year, a CBC News investigation has found.

Hundreds of complaints have been filed over the past few years about iQor Canada to provincial consumer affairs agencies, the federal telecommunications regulator CRTC, and the RCMP Anti-Fraud Squad, many stemming from repeated phone calls to people who don't owe any money.

Healthcare check-up: Should the province’s ombudsman have oversight of hospitals?

Every year, the office of Ontario’s Ombudsman receives hundreds of complaints from people who claim they’ve been wronged by hospitals. Here are three of the 383 that came in last year:

 • One woman complained about a lengthy emergency room delay that she feels may have contributed to her father’s death.

 • The daughter of a woman with dementia claimed she was retaliated against by hospital staff after she made a complaint about her mother’s care.

 • A female patient accused male hospital staff of throwing her to the ground, handcuffing her, stripping her naked and putting her in a gown. After complaining to the hospital, the woman said she was told her claim could not be verified because cameras in the room were not working.

Shocking Ashley Smith video revealed

“How can it get worse?”

Ashley Smith asks the question in a childlike moan.

Aboard a small government plane, 33,000 feet in the air somewhere between Saskatoon and Montreal, the teen inmate can’t fathom a fate worse than what has just befallen her in a period of six minutes.

Harper Calls Mulcair An Extremist Over Threats To Rip Up China Investment Treaty

OTTAWA - Tom Mulcair was labelled an anti-trade, anti-business extremist Wednesday for threatening to rip up a controversial investment treaty with China.

But the NDP leader did not back down. Indeed, he ratcheted up the rhetoric against the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act, vowing that an NDP government would not be bound to honour a treaty ratified by the Harper government.

"Let me be very clear," Mulcair told the House of Commons.

"The Conservatives will not tie the hands of the NDP. We will revoke this agreement if it is not in the best interests of Canadians."

Stephen Harper defends investment deal with China

OTTAWA—Prime Minister Stephen Harper defended the investment protection agreement he signed with Bejiing, saying it will even the playing field for Canadian companies wanting to invest in China.

“For almost two decades, Canadian governments have been trying to get a foreign investment protection and promotion agreement with China for one very simple reason: Canadian investors have not had the kind of protection in China that Chinese investors have in Canada,” Harper said during the question period in the Commons.

Joe Biden Torches Mitt Romney For 'Flagrantly Dishonest' Jeep Ad

WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden tore into Mitt Romney on Wednesday for running ads with a widely debunked claim about Chrysler and General Motors shipping American jobs to China, saying it calls into question the character of the Republican presidential nominee.

During a campaign event in Sarasota, Fla., Biden called the latest ad one of the "most scurrilous" and "most flagrantly dishonest ads I can remember in my political career." The worst part, he said, is that the ad actually caused workers to call United Auto Workers and ask if it was true.

"What a cynical, cynical thing to do," Biden said of Romney.

Dalton McGuinty Severance Package: Ontario Premier Defends $300,000 Pay Day For Quitting

TORONTO - Dalton McGuinty says the $300,000-severance pay he will receive after stepping down as Ontario premier is a much better deal for taxpayers than the gold plated pensions MPPs used to receive.

Whether they quit or lose in an election, members of the legislature are entitled to six months' pay for less than four years service, one year's pay for four to eight years on the job, and 18 months' pay for those who sit even longer than that.

A Crisis Foretold: Studies Warned New York Infrastructure Critically Threatened by Climate Change

The massive damage Superstorm Sandy has caused to New York City and its infrastructure has not come as a surprise to everyone. We’re joined by Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change, who says the city began looking at the impact of global warming more than a decade ago. She is the lead author of a 2011 report on the impact climate change will have in New York state’s "critical structure" like bridges and sewage systems, as well as public health and agriculture. A senior research scientist at NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies where she heads the Climate Impacts Group, Rosenzweig’s work with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Task Force on Data was recognized in 2007 with the Nobel Peace Prize awarded jointly to Al Gore and to the IPCC Task Force.
Source: Democracy Now!
Author: --

Thomas Mulcair threatens to roll back Canada-China investment protection agreement

OTTAWA—NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair threatens to roll back a Canada-China investment protection agreement if he forms government, saying the deal isn’t good enough.

Mulcair complained the deal does not protect the ability of provinces and municipalities to pass laws to protect public health or the environment without being sued by Chinese investors, and said the Conservative government should allow more time for MPs to scrutinize it.

Saying it is “a basic rule in a parliamentary democracy that one parliament cannot bind the hands of a future parliament,” Mulcair said the deal, as is, would not get the support of a future NDP government.

Kenney set to fast-track foreign students for immigration

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney has announced that he wants to admit more foreign students currently studying in Canada as permanent residents and potential citizens, though he also plans to maintain Canada's overall immigration level at the same tally that's been in place since 2007 — between 240,000 to 265,000 people.

Flanked by young foreign students from Carleton and the University of Ottawa, and fronted by a large sign that said "Faster Immigration," Kenney said Wednesday he is expanding the number of admissions under the Canadian Experience Class, which aims to recruit and retain international students who have studied and graduated in Canada as well as temporary foreign workers who speak one of Canada's official languages and already have Canadian work experience.