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.]

Monday, January 28, 2013

Bloomberg 'Ass' Comment: Mayor's Alleged Remark About Woman's Butt Steals Quinn's Spotlight

According to Michael Bloomberg, Christine Quinn is the only "rational" Democratic candidate to succeed him as mayor of New York City.

And-- save a run from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly or departing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton-- Quinn is Bloomberg's presumptive endorsee.

Ethiopian Women Claim Israel Forced Them To Accept Birth Control Shots

An Israeli government official has acknowledged that a number of Ethiopian women who were immigrating to Israel were injected with a long-acting contraceptive without understanding the consequences of the treatment.

Haaretz reports that Health Ministry Director General Prof. Ron Gamzu banned Israel's health maintenance organizations from injecting Ethiopian women with the contraceptive Depo-Provera "if for any reason there is concern that they might not understand the ramifications of the treatment.”

Ron Johnson: Obamacare 'Greatest Assault On Freedom In Our Lifetime'

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) called Obamacare the "greatest assault on freedom in our lifetime" in an interview with the Atlas Society.

"I think Americans are a little bit like frogs in that pot of water," he said. "The water's being brought up to boil." He said he ran for Senate in 2010 because of President Barack Obama's health care law, which he called "greatest assault on freedom in our lifetime." He said that "collectively" Americans were suffering from Stockholm Syndrome due to the loss of their freedoms.

Read My Lips: Yes, New Taxes

Last week, 11 European nations forged ahead to create a new tax while American Republicans walked backward into a no-new-tax trap.

On Jan. 22, the European Union gave 11 member countries -- including economic giants Germany and France -- permission to institute a financial transaction tax, a tiny fee charged on trades of stocks, bonds and other financial instruments.

Boy Scouts Of America Consider Dropping Ban On Gay Members And Participants: Report

Just days after a Maryland-based Cub Scout pack was forced to back down on a non-discriminatory pledge because of a reference to sexual orientation, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) might be changing its national stance toward the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community.

NBC cites a number of "scouting officials and outsiders familiar with internal discussions" who say a revised BSA policy would not only lift the ban on gay participants from the national youth organization's rules, but also allow local sponsoring organizations to decide for themselves whether or not to admit gay scouts.

U.S. Plans Base for Surveillance Drones in Northwest Africa

WASHINGTON — The United States military command in Africa is preparing plans to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups that American and other Western officials say pose a growing menace to the region.

Moody's Downgrades Canadian Banks' Long-Term Ratings

TORONTO - Five big Canadian banks and a credit union were downgraded Monday by Moody's rating agency, which believes they will be more vulnerable than in the past if there's a major shock to the economy.

The downgrades, which Moody's had warned were likely to happen, reflect the agency's ongoing concern that Canadian household debt has risen to historical highs — putting pressure on the institutions' mortgage businesses.

Growth more important than inflation says new Bank boss as he insists they are not 'maxed out' of ideas

Incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney has given the clearest signal yet he is willing to see higher inflation for longer to support economic growth.

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Carney indicated he was prepared to see inflation, which is currently running at 2.7 per cent, remain higher than the government's two per cent goal for longer if it means output can be increased faster.

He said: 'If you are coming from above [the inflation target] and you have a fiscal consolidation you might take a little longer to get back given the issues with output.'

2013: The year of the democracy coalition

When historians write the chapter on the current period of social democracy in Canada they might well conclude that the worst thing that happened to it was the 2011 election when the NDP got 103 seats it hadn't really earned. It was such an unexpected event that the NDP could not cope with it. You could see it in the euphoria of election night -- the same night that the dismantling of the country (whose best government features the party could take much credit for) would begin in earnest with a Harper majority.

Should you claim CPP at 60 or wait until 70?

The government wants us to keep working longer and to put off retirement so they’re offering incentives if we delay taking the Canada Pension Plan.

You can start taking a CPP pension at a very reduced rate when you turn 60, or you can wait as long as 70. If you need the money now, there’s no debate. Take the money. But if you can afford to wait, should you?

Tim Geithner: It's 'Extremely Unlikely' I'll Get Job On Wall Street

Departing Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says it is "extremely unlikely" that he'll get a job on Wall Street once he leaves government. You could argue that he's been working for Wall Street all along.

Geithner's comment about his future plans comes in a new interview with New York magazine, which follows other recent statements that he feels unloved by the bankers that he helped rescue and reportedly took extra care not to punish after the financial crisis.

Treasury Disregarded Own Rules, Allowed Executive Raises At Bailed-Out GM, AIG: Report

WASHINGTON -- A watchdog says the U.S. Treasury Department disregarded its own guidelines and allowed large pay increases for executives at three firms that had received taxpayer-funded bailouts during the financial crisis.

The Special Inspector General for Troubled Asset Relief Program says Treasury approved 18 raises for executives at American International Group Inc., General Motors Corp. and Ally Financial Inc. Of those requests, 14 were for $100,000 or more. One raise, for the CEO of a division at AIG, was for $1 million.

The three firms received a combined nearly $250 billion from the bailout fund. Only AIG has fully repaid its $182 billion bailout.

The report says Treasury approved raises that exceeded pay limits and in some cases failed to link compensation to performance.

Original Article
Source: huffington post

Hell Isle

Check out what the loopy Ayn Randroids are up to now. In long-suffering Detroit, a libertarian real estate developer wants to buy a civic crown jewel, Belle Isle, the 982-acre park designed by Frederick Law Olmstead—think the Motor City’s Central Park—and turn it into an independent nation, selling citizenships at $300,000 per. Not, mind you, out of any mercenary motives, says would-be founder Rodney Lockwood—but just “to provide an economic and social laboratory for a society which effectively addresses some of the most important problems of American, and the western world.” (Sic.)

Texas Public Schools: Still Teaching Creationism

In Texas public schools, children learn that the Bible provides scientific proof that Earth is 6,000 years old, that the origins of racial diversity trace back to a curse placed on Noah's son, and that astronauts have discovered "a day missing in space" that corroborates biblical stories of the sun standing still.

These are some of the findings detailed in Reading, Writing & Religion II, a new report by the Texas Freedom Network that investigates how public schools in the Lone Star State promote religious fundamentalism under the guise of offering academic courses about the Bible. The report, written by Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University, found that more than half of the state's public-school Bible courses taught students to read the book from a specifically Christian theological perspective—a clear violation of rules governing the seperation of church and state.

“So Many People Died”: How Afghanistan and Iraq Echo Vietnam

Pham To looked great for 78 years old. (At least, that's about how old he thought he was.) His hair was thin, gray, and receding at the temples, but his eyes were lively and his physique robust—all the more remarkable given what he had lived through. I listened intently, as I had so many times before to so many similar stories, but it was still beyond my ability to comprehend. It's probably beyond yours, too.

The Senate Immigration Plan Isn't Terrible—It's Just Unworkable

The bipartisan Senate "Gang of Eight" released their framework for comprehensive immigration reform today. As expected, the plan includes increased enforcement and a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants already in the United States. It also contains several tripwires that, if triggered, could destroy the entire effort. The Gang of Eight includes Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.).

Idle No More activists resume protests against Conservatives

OTTAWA—First Nations advocates are hoping to keep up the pressure on the federal Conservatives, taking to the streets as MPs return to the House of Commons after a six-week break.

The Idle No More movement is holding protests across the country, joining other activists to oppose Stephen Harper’s changes to environmental oversight and urge action on native rights. In Ottawa, they plan to flood Parliament Hill with protesters, dancers and a long list of speakers.

Richest one per cent of Canadians earn one-tenth of all income

After rising for nearly three decades, the richest 1 per cent of Canadians shrank as a percentage of all tax filers in 2010, a study by Statistics Canada says.

The top 1 per cent earned 10.6 per cent of all reported income that year, the agency said in a publication released Monday.

That was down from a pre-recession peak of 12.1 per cent reached in 2006, according to the report, called “High-income trends among Canadian tax filers: 1982 to 2010.”

However, the decline may be a temporary blip, some observers said.

Idle? Idol? Or Idyll?

A lot has transpired in the last few months relating to the Idle No More movement. My opinions and views have changed so much, just like the faces of those who try to strangle hold the movement have changed. It seems every single person within the political system has tried to take the reins and steer the movement with their own agenda.

There are so many factions among our people in what we call “leadership roles”.  I will state this very openly and clearly. I do not view the Indian Act Band Councils, the Ontario Union of Indians, or the Assembly of First Nations as my “leaders”.  Every single one of those political bodies are essentially a branch of the government, working on behalf of the government. Their job is designed specifically to keep the people under control, and divided, to maintain the status quo, so that corporate Canada can continue to rape and plunder the earth for capital profit.   (In fact the entire political bodies of North America, and anywhere else where “democracy” is forced by the U.S. or U.N. military, is a complete fallacy. It is a system of control) I will not go into a deep critical analysis of the Indian Act Band Council System or their parent AFN system. Instead read what Zig Zag has already published.

Israel warns that transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons might trigger attack

JERUSALEM—Israel could launch a pre-emptive strike to stop Syria’s chemical weapons from reaching Lebanon’s Hezbollah or Al-Qaeda-inspired groups, officials said Sunday.

The warning came as the military moved a rocket defence system to a main northern city, and Israel’s premier warned of dangers from both Syria and Iran.

Israel has long expressed concerns that Syrian President Bashar Assad, clinging to power during a 22-month civil war, could lose control over his chemical weapons.

Internet freedom and the ghost of Aaron Swartz

Was Internet ‘saint’ and prodigy Aaron Swartz harried to death by prosecutors? Is the United States planning another scorched-earth campaign against online freedom?

Whatever the answer, this much is obvious to anyone who has been following the ongoing battle between democracies (which are rapidly turning into national security states) and information-hungry citizens clinging to an open Internet: The skirmishing is now a war.

Page says three stellar candidates up for PBO job right in his office

Canada’s controversial, outgoing Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, who hopes he won’t be replaced by a lapdog, says the three men he would like to see succeed him at the office are all interested in the job, even though it’s considered a public service career ender.

“I think they are interested. It’s based on they were here right from the very beginning. They kind of self-selected, they wanted to build a real legislative budget officer of Canada,” Mr. Page told The Hill Times.

Cairo erupts in riots amid Egypt state of emergency

Riot police fired tear gas at rock-throwing protesters in central Cairo on Monday, a day after Egypt's president declared a state of emergency in three provinces hit hardest by political violence and vowed to deal "firmly and forcefully" with the unrest roiling the country.

The eruption of violence, which began around Friday's second anniversary of the uprising that toppled longtime ruler Hosni Mubarak, has plunged Egypt once again into political turmoil and exposed the deep fault lines running through the country. More than 50 people have been killed in the unrest, which is fuelled by anger over the policies of the country's new Islamist leader and the slow pace of change.

House returns as Idle No More protesters gather

MPs are set to return to the House of Commons today as Idle No More protesters march to Parliament Hill for a world day of action.

The protesters are opposed to environmental law changes adopted after the House of Commons and Senate passed Bill C-45, the second omnibus budget implementation bill, but Government House Leader Peter Van Loan told reporters Monday morning that the government is "firmly committed" to its budget law, because its changes are "critical for long-term growth and prosperity."

Where did all the new jobs come from?

Economists are scratching their heads over Canada’s unexpectedly strong employment growth in 2012. It puzzles them for three reasons: businesses weren’t spending, governments weren’t hiring and the economy was weak.

Despite these unfavourable conditions, Canada created 272,000 new jobs in 2012, its best showing since the recession. By year-end, the unemployment rate had fallen to a four-year low of 7.1 per cent.

Richard Graham, UK Lawmaker: Short Skirts, High Heels Risk Rape

LONDON -- A British lawmaker's suggestion that young women who wear high heels and short skirts put themselves at greater risk of rape has drawn widespread condemnation.

"If you are blind drunk and wearing those clothes how able are you to get away?" Conservative Party lawmaker Richard Graham, of Gloucester, was quoted as saying by his local newspaper, The Citizen.

Preston Manning's well-funded ideological hobbyhorse takes aim at civic progressives

Is the so-called Manning Centre for Building Democracy preparing to target Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and other progressive city councillors for a corporate-backed reprise of the far right's domination of federal and provincial politics in recent decades across Canada?

So it would seem.

Indeed, it would be fair to say the benevolent sounding Trojan Horse founded by Preston Manning, the former Reform Party leader and unflinching market ideologue, has its sights set on finding ways for the ideological right to take over municipal councils all across Canada. Calgary is just to be the first conquest in its ideological blitzkrieg.

Scrambling for Profit, Media Slip 'Custom Content' into Mix

"I hate it. I hate doing it... It's not what I signed up for." That's the lament of a former Postmedia reporter assigned all too often to write "custom content."

Most of us assume that media outlets still go about producing their news the traditional way -- a reporter sniffs out a lead or an editor assigns an evolving story or, these days, a columnist storifies a flurry of Twitter activity.

Make 2013 the Year of Canada's Democracy Coalition

When historians write the chapter on the current period of social democracy in Canada they might well conclude that the worst thing that happened to it was the 2011 election when the NDP got 103 seats it hadn't really earned. It was such an unexpected event that the NDP could not cope with it. You could see it in the euphoria of election night -- the same night that the dismantling of the country (whose best government features the party could take much credit for) would begin in earnest with a Harper majority.

The delusion set in that night and it continues to today. While the party always talked as if it would become government it was always an article of faith, not reason. The election put that article of faith on steroids and the reward for the faithful was to be allowed to believe even more strongly. That blind faith will destroy social democracy in Canada and hand Stephen Harper the additional four years he needs to dismantle the country. After transforming the country in the post-war years into a modest social democracy without ever coming to power, the NDP's false dream of actually coming to power threatens to wipe out its legacy. If that isn't irony I don't know what would qualify.

Bureaucrats recommended against news conference MacKay took helicopter to attend

OTTAWA — Government officials didn’t want to hold the Ontario media event that prompted Defence Minister Peter MacKay to catch a private ride on a search-and-rescue helicopter from a fishing trip in Newfoundland two years ago.

Internal emails obtained by Postmedia News also raise questions over government assertions that MacKay’s attendance at the news conference in London, Ont., was confirmed only a few days before the event took place.

Rally to restore rights and democracy in Ontario draws over 25,000 protesters

Be fair. Be respectful. And be democratic.

That’s the lesson Ken Coran hopes to teach the Liberal party, all politicians and recent and future governments in Ontario.

“The lesson is simple,” said Coran, president, Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF) at the Rally for Rights and Democracy on Saturday afternoon in Toronto.

“It’s easy to say and it’s easy to understand. Three simple rules that any government can use.”

Spence didn’t deserve to be maligned, mocked

OTTAWA—She isn’t Mother Theresa, but neither is she a figure who deserved to be maligned and mocked the way she was.

Theresa Spence didn’t deserve the snide, accusatory asides and the social-media slurring about her Escalade, her double chin, jokes about her “diet,” gossip about her partner, her personal income, her showers, and naps at a nearby hotel.

She didn’t deserve to have an unflattering audit leaked while she was fasting in an unforgiving winter climate.

Liberal MP wants Status of Women Committee to look into murder, disappearance of aboriginal women

On the heels of demands from aboriginal leaders and human rights groups that the government establish a public inquiry, Liberal women’s critic Judy Sgro says she will introduce a motion at the House Status of Women Committee to look into the murder and disappearance of more than 600 aboriginal women in the last two decades.

“From 2005 to 2011, more than 600 women disappeared or were murdered and justice wasn’t done. So imagine those families without answers, and still today in 2013,” said Michèle Taïna Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada at a press conference Jan. 24.

Top government players working on moving aboriginal affairs into a new era

Behind the scenes at more than half a dozen government departments, scores of senior federal bureaucrats are involved in the efforts to move the government’s relationship with Canada’s indigenous peoples into a new era.

It’s “an area that is a bit of an orphan in the federal system,” said Warren Johnson, who held a variety of positions at Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development (then known as Indian and Northern Affairs) including six years as assistant deputy minister.

Environment commissioner ‘spinning wheels’ in top post, quits two years early

Colleagues of Canada’s Environment Commissioner Scott Vaughan say they aren’t surprised that he will resign from his post with more than two years left on his seven-year mandate so that he can head the International Institute for Sustainable Development.

“I was not surprised at the news,” admitted Scott Findlay, a member of Mr. Vaughan’s panel of environmental advisers and a professor of biology at the University of Ottawa. “None of us are dummies. We were all very well aware of the extent to which the environment is a priority of the current government.”

Continued office budget freeze making MPs less relevant, says Grit MP Sgro

It is a “mistake” to continue to freeze MPs’ office budgets for the next three years because Members of Parliament will become less relevant to Canadians, say some MPs.

“They may be leaving them at the same levels, but they’re … nickel and diming us everywhere they can in a variety of different ways,” said Liberal MP Judy Sgro (York West, Ont.). “I think it’s a mistake. Part of the importance of federal Members of Parliament is their ability to communicate with their constituents on what they’re doing and so forth. For them to be cutting back the way that they are doing just makes it tougher for us to be relevant in the lives of our constituents.”

Aboriginal issues, economy, Mali, F-35s to capture House attention

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s majority-governing Conservatives will remain focused on the economy in this winter House session, and although it appears to be a light legislative agenda, expect the government to move on some aboriginal issues, after Attawapiskat Chief Theresa Spence, the Assembly of First Nations,  and the Idle No More grassroots movement pushed aboriginal affairs in Canada into the international spotlight over the last two months.

EI case: Ruling gives benefits to foster parent planning to adopt

In a decision that could help more families caring for grandchildren, nieces and nephews, the Federal Court of Appeal has upheld a rural Manitoba grandmother’s right to claim Employment Insurance parental benefits.

The “precedent-setting” ruling, released this month, opens the door to more parents who have left work to look after a child placed in their care by child protection agencies, says the woman’s lawyer.

Rob Ford slams TTC chair Karen Stintz over newsstand deal

Mayor Rob Ford and his brother, Councillor Doug Ford, took turns bashing TTC chair Karen Stintz on their radio show for supporting a lease extension for the company that runs newsstands in the subway.

The Toronto Transit Commission should have sought competitive bids for the right to operate 65 subway newsstands, eight lottery booths, two bakeries and two cafes, Ford said Sunday on CFRB Newstalk 1010.

Island airport needs own police force, Toronto Port Authority says

The Toronto Port Authority wants hired guns to police the island airport.

The TPA’s proposal, which is almost unheard of in Ontario, includes staffing the Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport with nine armed special constables between 6 a.m. and midnight seven days a week.

The TPA says it would use the constables to assist investigations, respond to alarm calls and enhance current security services.

Michael Bloomberg's Contributions To Johns Hopkins University Top $1 Billion

BALTIMORE -- New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has pledged $350 million to Johns Hopkins University, mainly to expand its interdisciplinary research on an array of issues including global health and urban revitalization as his lifetime giving to his alma mater eclipses $1 billion.

The university announced the commitment late Saturday saying it believe Bloomberg, who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg LP, is now the first person to give more than $1 billion to a single American university.

Egypt State Of Emergency Declared In 3 Provinces

CAIRO — Egypt's president declared a state of emergency and curfew in three Suez Canal provinces hit hardest by a weekend wave of unrest that left more than 50 dead, using tactics of the ousted regime to get a grip on discontent over his Islamist policies and the slow pace of change.

Angry and almost screaming, Mohammed Morsi vowed in a televised address on Sunday night that he would not hesitate to take even more action to stem the latest eruption of violence across much of the country. But at the same time, he sought to reassure Egyptians that his latest moves would not plunge the country back into authoritarianism.

House Of Commons Returns Amidst Canada's Economic Turbulence

OTTAWA - Almost exactly one year ago, Prime Minister Stephen Harper addressed a well-healed audience in Davos, Switzerland, where he delivered what amounted to an ambitious throne speech.

Harper's vision for Canada's economic restructuring included toppling regulatory hurdles to fast-track major resource projects, revamping government incentives for research and development, pension and immigration reforms and new trade agreements abroad.