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.]

Sunday, December 23, 2012

For Poor, Leap to College Often Ends in a Hard Fall

GALVESTON, Tex. — Angelica Gonzales marched through high school in Goth armor — black boots, chains and cargo pants — but undermined her pose of alienation with a place on the honor roll. She nicknamed herself after a metal band and vowed to become the first in her family to earn a college degree.

“I don’t want to work at Walmart” like her mother, she wrote to a school counselor.

A Few Remedies for the Right to Bear Arms

Last night at dinner, my husband said, "There's no solution." We were talking, of course, about gun control, and it is true that the flood of guns and ammo into our neighborhoods and our nation is daunting. There is no solution. But the first thing I thought of was my mother and me, driving along back in 1954 in her 1953 Studebaker, windows closed, winter day, Mom's cigarette burning in the ash tray. Mom was a smoker. My grandfather was a smoker. My aunts were smokers. My uncles were smokers. I don't know any smokers now, not even my mom.

Spousal Violence Cost $7.4 Billion For Incidents Occurring In 1 Year, Major Justice Canada Study Says

OTTAWA - A major federal investigation into spousal violence says it cost society at least $7.4 billion for the thousands of incidents that occurred in just one year.

The Justice Canada study examined a broad range of economic impacts, from policing and health-care to funerals and lost wages, for every incident of spousal violence in 2009.

Immigrant families increasingly likely to rely on food banks

Every Saturday morning, like millions of other Canadian families, Quxia Lin and her children, Emily and Aiden, do their grocery shopping.

But it's not like Lin, who was born in China, gets into a car to drive to the supermarket. She has to bundle her kids up for the 30-minute walk from her one-bedroom apartment to the local food bank.

Statistically, Lin and her kids are more likely to rely on food banks than the average Canadian.

Majority of Canadians support grassroots protest movements: poll

EDMONTON - With the Idle No More movement by First Nations now marching across the country, including Edmonton, a recent poll shows Canadians are supportive of such grassroots citizen protests and strongly believe people should push politicians to do a better job.

The majority of respondents said they supported grassroots protests, including the Occupy movement and the British Columbia referendum against the harmonized sales tax. People are looking at other methods of political participation beyond conventional parties, said Environics pollster Keith Neuman, in an interview discussing the poll on Canadian values conducted jointly with the University of Alberta.

Policy trumps continuity in central bank head: Flaherty

Hinting that the next Governor of the Bank of Canada might not be picked from within its own ranks, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says continuity matters, but it's not the main factor in the decision-making process.

In an interview with CTV Question Period host Kevin Newman, Flaherty was asked whether continuity is a big factor in finding a replacement for outgoing Governor Mark Carney.

Trudeau defies critics in Muslim conference speech

Liberal leadership contender Justin Trudeau told an Islamic conference Saturday that groups who attacked his decision to attend the gathering only work to divide Canadians.

Trudeau told a crowd of thousands at the Reviving the Islamic Spirit conference in Toronto that his critics attempted to tap into "fears and prejudices" that sap the acceptance of others.

"It is short-sighted to pit groups of Canadians against one another. It may make some feel good for a little while, or even work politically in the short term, but it is no way to build a country," Trudeau said in a keynote address. "It is not who we are."

Elementary school teachers will halt further strike actions if Ontario scraps Bill 115

Elementary school teachers offered Friday to stop all rotating strikes and take no new strike action if the Education Minister promises that she won’t force collective agreements on ETFO under Bill 115 on or after December 31.

“This would allow room for more productive, respectful, democratic and fair discussions to take place with the goal of reaching collective agreements under a new leader in this province,” said Sam Hammond, president, ETFO.

U.S. gun enthusiasts pack shows to buy assault weapons

ALLENTOWN, PENN./KANSAS CITY—U.S. gun enthusiasts thronged to shows around the country on Saturday to buy assault weapons they fear will soon be outlawed after a massacre of schoolchildren in Connecticut prompted calls for tighter controls on firearms.

At gun shows in Pennsylvania, Missouri and Texas there were long lines to get in the door, crowds around the dealer booths, a rush to buy assault weapons even at higher prices and some dealers selling out.

The busiest table at the R.K. Gun & Knife show at an exposition centre near the Kansas City, Mo. airport was offering assault weapons near the entrance.

AquaAdvantage Genetically Modified Salmon Not A Threat To Nature, FDA Says

WASHINGTON -- Federal health regulators say a genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast as normal is unlikely to harm the environment, clearing the way for the first approval of a scientifically engineered animal for human consumption.

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday released its environmental assessment of the AquaAdvantage salmon, a faster-growing fish which has been subject to a contentious, yearslong debate at the agency. The document concludes that the fish "will not have any significant impacts on the quality of the human environment of the United States." Regulators also said that the fish is unlikely to harm populations of natural salmon, a key concern for environmental activists.

New York Post, New York Daily News Slam NRA's Wayne LaPierre

The New York Post and the New York Daily News tore into the National Rifle Association on Saturday for the gun lobby's bizarre press conference held in response to the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre.

On Friday, the gun lobby broke its silence to comment on the Connecticut school shooting, which took the lives of 20 first-graders and six adults. In a widely-panned public appearance, NRA leader Wayne LaPierre blamed gun violence on everything from video games to the media, and advocated placing an armed officer in every school in America.

Gardiner perfect storm

Another chunk of concrete fell onto the Lake Shore from the Gardiner’s underbelly on Friday night, December 14. TV news crews were on the scene like stink on shit.

The local press can’t get enough of the Gardiner. Can we call it a scandal yet?

To hear the Ford administration tell it, the behemoth is about to come crashing down. City staff contend otherwise. But few these days seem to be heeding the professional advice of the public service.

NRA School Proposal Is 'Irresponsible And Dangerous,' 'Delusional,' Teachers Unions Say

Two leading teachers unions came out strongly against a proposal Friday by the National Rifle Association to place armed police officers at the nation's schools.

The suggestion by Wayne LaPierre, the chief lobbyist for the National Rifle Association, came in an eagerly anticipated news conference that broke the organization's week-long silence since the school shooting in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 26 people at the school.

Fiscal Fail: Government Agencies Plan Few Significant Changes For January, Despite Cliff Hype

WASHINGTON -- On Jan. 1, 2000, the world awoke to find that little had changed since the night before. After years of hype around what was then called Y2K -- the fear that computer systems across the globe would collapse, unable to handle the year shifting from '99 to '00 -- the date change turned out to be a momentous non-event.

Next week, the United States is in for much the same, after months of frantic hype about the economic disruption that awaits if Congress and the president fail to reach a deal and the federal government goes "over the fiscal cliff."

Backfire: The Disgusting NRA Press Conference

I fully expected the National Rifle Association to hold a press conference this morning that would help blunt the momentum for gun control legislation now building in Washington: to solemnly pay tribute to those lost at Sandy Hook; to pledge to work with all sides to stop this from happening again while subtly trying to shift the conversation more towards mental health issues and, heck, maybe video games too. It would make the NRA seem reasonable, and concerned, and give hesitant members of Congress some comfort in sticking to the NRA line.

Gang Rape Protesters Clash With Indian Police

NEW DELHI — Police in India's capital used tear gas and water cannons Saturday to push back thousands of people who tried to march to the presidential mansion to protest the gang rape and brutal beating of a 23-year-old student on a moving bus.

Several protesters suffered injuries when they repeatedly tried to break through steel barricades in a high-security zone in New Delhi. Police fired tear gas and chased the protesters with sticks, and some of the protesters attacked police with stones during sporadic clashes throughout the day.

Idle No More Protesters Remember Oka Crisis

Protests for the national Idle No More movement continue today, as Mohawks from Quebec's Kanesatake community return to the infamous site of the 1990 Oka crisis.

The Idle No More movement's supporters oppose the Harper government's recently passed omnibus budget legislation, Bill C-45, and accuse the Tories of trampling on treaty rights.

Leaked fracking fluid contaminated groundwater near Grande Prairie: ERCB

EDMONTON - Leaked fracking fluid has contaminated groundwater after a “serious” incident at a well site near Grande Prairie in September 2011, according to an investigation by the Energy Resources Conservation Board which regulates the energy industry.

Calgary-based Crew Energy “inadvertently” released toxic fluids at too shallow a level in a natural gas well and then failed to realize the leak was occurring underground, said the ERCB report released Thursday.

Toews' refusal to transfer prisoner from U.S. shows a 'closed mind: ' judge

The public safety minister's staunch refusal to accept the transfer of a Canadian prisoner in the U.S. back to this country lacks reason, suggests a "closed mind," and ignores "clear evidence" in support of such a move, a judge has ruled.

In a rare and harshly worded decision, Federal Court Judge Luc Martineau gave Vic Toews 45 days to accept the transfer request and ensure "all reasonable steps have been taken for (the inmate's) prompt transfer" back to Canada.

Auto job losses are felt by whole communities

In the glory days, 62 new Crown Victorias and Grand Marquis would roll out every hour from the Ford plant in St. Thomas, Ont.

This was the region’s economic centre, where 3,300 workers once built future police cars and taxis and, for some reason, cars for ordinary people in Florida. Florida loved the Crown Vic. No one knows why.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s pro-gun stance causing concern

The gun lobby that Stephen Harper nurtured keeps coming back to bite.

Two weeks ago, the prime minister was forced to overrule a scheme hatched up by his Conservative government’s hand-picked firearms advisory committee that would have legalized a host of banned assault rifles and handguns.

Now, thanks in part to that same committee, the federal government has quietly axed any attempt to regulate gun shows.

Idle No More: On the meaning of Chief Theresa Spence's hunger strike

Native peoples in this country have endured much worse than the disrespect Prime Minister Harper showed on Dec 21, tweeting about "mmm… bacon" while Attiwapiskat Chief Theresa Spence was on Day 11 of a hunger strike that won't end unless he agrees to a meeting between himself, the Governor General and First Nations leaders including Spence.

But it is precisely at this point where respect would be worth so much. We have an uprising in this country for Native sovereignty, the Idle No More movement. This in a country where Harper 'apologized' for genocidal residential schools, yet the next year claimed on the world stage that Canada didn't have a history of colonialism, and where the residential schools Truth and Reconcialition Commission has just had to turn to the courts in order to get the government to turn over the historical records that it needs to do its job.

Early results show Egypt’s disputed charter receives ‘yes’ majority in referendum

CAIRO—Egypt’s disputed constitution has received a “yes” majority of more than 70 per cent in the second and final round of voting on the referendum, according to preliminary results released early Sunday by the Muslim Brotherhood.

The results, posted on the Brotherhood’s website, show that 71.4 per cent of those who voted Saturday said “yes” after 95.5 per cent of the ballots were counted. Only about eight million of the 25-million Egyptians eligible to vote — a turnout of about 30 per cent — cast their ballots.