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.]

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

To Cut Wasteful Spending, Start With Nuclear Weapons

The first "fiscal cliff" was temporarily averted through a last-minute congressional deal. The next "fiscal cliff", the automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, is scheduled to arrive March first. Between now and March, Congress and the president will be searching for a way to reshape the budget in a more surgical, strategic way, rather than through mindless, across-the-board cuts. One place to start is with the nuclear weapons programs at the Departments of Defense and Energy.

Maxine Waters Urges Congress To Investigate Foreclosure Settlement

The top Democrat on the House Financial Services Committee called Tuesday for Congress to "immediately" hold a hearing to investigate a controversial $8.5 billion foreclosure abuse settlement reached this year.

Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) said in a letter to Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), the chairman of the committee, that she wanted bank regulators to explain what went wrong during a case-by-case review of foreclosed homes that ended "abruptly" earlier this year, why a cash settlement with the mortgage industry was reached instead, and what the deal means for struggling homeowners.

Religious education under fire across Canada

“You can’t extricate the faith. It’s woven throughout the fabric of the school.” These are the words of an Ontario Catholic school board spokesperson, responding to a father’s demands that his son be exempted from all religious content at his high school. They offer a clear window into an objectively bizarre situation: In this otherwise obsessively progressive jurisdiction, where questioning same-sex marriage or abortion rights is politically anathema, the government doesn’t just tolerate schools that distribute pro-life petitions and officially believe homosexual relationships are “intrinsically disordered.” It fully funds them.

Putting too many eggs in Europe’s basket

The continuing mediocre performance of the U.S. economy, as reflected in the latest weak fourth quarter GDP numbers, defy rumours of a private sector rebound. It’s another wakeup call for Ottawa.

It is still too early to know whether these numbers foretell the start of another recession or are simply potholes suggesting a long-term trend of slow economic growth.

Attiwapiskat protesters blockade winter road to De Beers diamond mine

A small number of protesters have blockaded the winter road to De Beers’ Victor diamond mine outside the embattled Attawapiskat reserve in northern Ontario.

The mine, about 100 km outside the First Nations community, has been a source of division since it opened about five years ago, but employs several members of the band.

Despite an impact-benefit agreement signed after several years of negotiation, many in the First Nation still believe they are being cheated out of the diamond mine’s profits.

One protester said the blockade began Monday night.

It’s unknown what the blockaders are protesting or how long they intend to stay.

De Beers has not yet commented.

Original Article
Author: -

Conservative party acknowledges it was behind Saskatchewan robocall on boundary changes

Fred DeLorey, director of communications for the Conservative Party of Canada, acknowledged Tuesday the party was responsible for a mysterious robocall recently made to Saskatchewan residents about electoral boundary changes.

The Conservative party initially denied any involvement in the robocall. Here’s a statement released Tuesday by DeLorey:

Daniel Ellsberg: NDAA Indefinite Detention Provision is Part of "Systematic Assault on Constitution"

A lawsuit challenging a law that gives the government the power to indefinitely detain U.S. citizens is back in federal court this week. On Wednesday, a group of academics, journalists and activists will present oral arguments in court against a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, authorizing the military to jail anyone it considers a terrorism suspect anywhere in the world without charge or trial. In a landmark ruling last September, Judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York struck down the indefinite detention provision, saying it likely violates the First and Fifth Amendments of U.S. citizens. We’re joined by Daniel Ellsberg, a plaintiff in the case and perhaps the country’s most famous whistleblower. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers in 1971, exposing the secret history of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam.
Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Exposed: The Dark-Money ATM of the Conservative Movement

Working out of an nondescript brick rowhouse in suburban Virginia, a little-known organization named Donors Trust, staffed by five employees, has steered hundreds of millions of dollars to the most influential think tanks, foundations, and advocacy groups in the conservative movement. Over the past decade, it has funded the right's assault on labor unions, climate scientists, public schools, economic regulations, and the very premise of activist government. Yet unlike its nearest counterpart on the progressive side, the Tides Foundation, a bogeyman of Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly, Donors Trust has mostly avoided any real scrutiny. It is the dark-money ATM of the right.

Days Of High Union Wages 'Gone,' Labour Lawyer Says

Two men who normally only meet behind closed doors were front and centre at the University of Windsor Monday.

A prominent management labour lawyer George King and the CAW's president Ken Lewenza squared off in a debate about the future of Ontario's manufacturing industry.

Environment Commissioner Says Growth Leaving Canada Exposed To Disaster

OTTAWA - Federal environmental protections are struggling to keep up with the fast pace of development in the energy industry, leaving Canada exposed to the risks of oil spills, pollution, and damage to fragile habitat, a new audit says.

Scott Vaughan, Canada's commissioner of the environment and sustainable development, issued his parting words Tuesday after five years in the job, taking a close look at how well Ottawa is managing the significant environmental risks associated with its goal of aggressively promoting resource development.

Government ad spending on economy balloons under Conservatives since recession

OTTAWA - When Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the economy is his top priority, he has the advertising spending to support his claim.

An examination by The Canadian Press reveals ad budgets geared to promoting economic success have ballooned under the Conservatives since the 2008 global downturn.

The latest blitz of "economic action plan" ads, which blanketed the airwaves on Super Bowl Sunday, comes from Human Resources and Skills Development Canada — one of the big advertising budget winners under the Harper government.

Northern Gateway: Is Ottawa prepping plan B?

Is the Harper government sitting on a plan to use a constitutional weapon to push through the Northern Gateway pipeline — over the opposition of the British Columbia government and in defiance of the First Nation duty-to-consult?

Some legal supporters of the pipeline in Alberta are arguing that the Northern Gateway project would constitute a single interprovincial work or undertaking, and so would come under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government under sections 91(29) and 92(10)a of the Constitution Act 1867.

Common Causes: Opposing Harper's foreign policy

Common Causes is an assembly of social movements dedicated to defending democracy, social justice, the environment and human rights in the face of an all-out assault by the Harper government. This is the fourth extract we have published from Maude Barlow's report on the goals and aims of Common Causes. For an overview, see this article or check out our special Common Causes page.

Stephen Harper has moved Canada's foreign policy sharply to the right, embracing a more militaristic role for Canada’s armed services, putting trade before human rights and using aid to promote the interests of Canada’s infamous mining industry abroad.

Canada's greatest child abuse problem: Poverty

Another year. Another report on how we as Canadians are failing one in every six of our children.

According to The Conference Board of Canada, the child poverty that all Canadian political parties, in 1989, pledged to eliminate by the year 2000 has not only not been eliminated, it has actually increased since the 1990s by 15.1%.

More on Backers of $1 Million Anti-NDP Ad Blitz

An advocacy group asking tough questions about B.C. New Democrat leader Adrian Dix in a $1 million attack ad campaign is being very shy in providing clear answers about skeletons in its own closet.

And as the election nears, Concerned Citizens for BC may face increasing questions about the role of its leader, retired corporate executive Jim Shepard, in the controversial $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail in 2003.

Tories' Senate reform reference to Supreme Court will divide country, says constitutional law professor

PARLIAMENT HILL—Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s surprise decision to ask the Supreme Court of Canada for an opinion about Bill C-7, the Senate Reform Bill, will divide the country, and is an attempt to divert voters from the fact the government has not moved the bill for debate for more than a year, says a constitutional law professor. The division may already have started, University of Ottawa law professor Errol Mendes told The Hill Times Monday.

Russia's Vladimir Putin, democrat or dictator?

There are good reasons democratic republics place term limits on their leaders.

Among the most important is the dysfunction affecting those who simply stay in office too long, in the process losing connection to the mood of change that they rode into office with in the first place.

CIDA official misused taxpayer money: Integrity commissioner

OTTAWA—A senior executive at the federal agency responsible for billions in overseas aid was using taxpayers’ time and money to conduct private business, an investigation has found.

The executive, a director general at the Canadian International Development Agency, also had civil servants doing their personal bidding, the public integrity commissioner concluded in a report released Tuesday.

Police drones raise fears over personal privacy

A garage in Kenora, packed with model planes and the flotsam of family life, is where one of the Ontario Provincial Police’s latest — and perhaps most controversial — tools for fighting crime was born.

The first two attempts failed. But with his third, Identification Const. Marc Sharpe, a forensic identification officer — whose off-duty passion is building and flying model airplanes — launched a new, high-tech approach to fighting crime in Canada.

He had built a drone.

Kill List Exposed: Leaked Obama Memo Shows Assassination of U.S. Citizens "Has No Geographic Limit"

The Obama administration’s internal legal justification for assassinating U.S. citizens without charge has been revealed for the first time. In a secret Justice Department memo, the administration claims it has legal authority to assassinate U.S. citizens overseas even if there is no intelligence indicating they are engaged in an active plot to attack the United States. We’re joined by Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union. "If you look at the memo ... there’s no geographic line," says Jaffer. "The Obama administration is making, in some ways, a greater claim of authority [than President Bush]. They’re arguing that the authority to kill American citizens has no geographic limit."

Source: Democracy Now!
Author: -

Giorgio Mammoliti faces legal action over campaign finance violations

The political fate of Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti will soon be in the hands of a special prosecutor, now that Toronto’s compliance audit committee has unanimously voted to launch legal action.

An independent audit of Mammoliti’s 2010 campaign expenses found that the York West councillor appears to have exceeded his spending limit by 44 per cent — or $12,065 above the $27,464 limit.

If the special prosecutor decides to lay charges under the Municipal Elections Act — this is a provincial offence, not a criminal one — Mammoliti could face a fine or removal from office.

Why Idle No More Never Needed Your Sympathy

The Idle No More Indigenous rights movement is promising more direct action in 2013. However, a spectre is haunting the movement -- the spectre of fading public sympathy. The majority of Canadians (as well as some in the movement) believe that gaining recognition for Indigenous rights depends on effectively bolstering and sustaining public support.

Does it?

From the get go, commentators have cautioned that Indigenous peoples would be wise to play their cards right lest they squander what little patience and benevolence the Canadian public has left for Indigenous issues.