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, September 13, 2013

Unpaid bus person internship offered at Vancouver hotel

An ad seeking unpaid interns to bus tables at Vancouver's Fairmont Waterfront Hotel has sparked a debate about whether unpaid internships take advantage of students.

The ad was circulated on Twitter and was reportedly posted on the hotel's career section briefly before it was taken down.

"Exceptional service and cuisine are hallmarks of The Fairmont Waterfront dining experience," the ad reads. "As a Busperson, you will take pride in the integral role you play in supporting your Food and Beverage Colleagues and 'setting the stage' for a truly memorable meal."

Harper cabinet readies major B.C. pipelines push

A parade of cabinet ministers and senior bureaucrats will head to British Columbia starting next week as part of a major push to mollify opponents of building oil pipelines to the West Coast, CBC News has learned.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is signalling he intends to make progress on proposals to connect Alberta's oilsands with ports in British Columbia and the lucrative Asian markets beyond.

House Prices: Canada Sees Another All-Time Record In August

Home prices in Canada rose another 0.6 per cent from July to August, setting another all-time record, according to the Teranet-National Bank Composite House Price Index.

The index, which measures resale house prices in the 11 largest metro areas in the country, found prices have risen 1.9 per cent, nationwide, in the past year.

Nenshi Wants Answers Regarding Canadian Pacific Derailment

CALGARY - Calgary's mayor is again demanding answers from Canadian Pacific Railway after eight rail cars full of oil chemicals derailed at a train yard in the city, forcing the closure of major road and the evacuation of some homes.

Six of the cars, which were carrying a diluting agent used in oil pipelines, flipped over during rush hour Wednesday. Residents in some homes in the immediate area were told to leave, but no one was hurt and none of the cars leaked.

Ken Taylor, Former Iran Envoy, Says Ottawa Acting Mischievous In Diplomats Strike

OTTAWA - Ken Taylor, the former ambassador behind the 1979 Canadian Caper in Iran, says Canada's modern-day diplomats are underpaid and will hopefully resolve their unprecedented strike with the government.

Taylor was critical of the Harper government for its past public comments that its foreign-service officers enjoy coveted jobs with lots of perks.

"I find this a mischievous approach," Taylor told The Canadian Press on Thursday.

The Tsar of All the Concern Trolls

Say this for Vladimir Putin: the quality of the propaganda coming out of the Kremlin has dramatically improved since the days of Stalin, the Comintern, and Pravda.

Putin’s Op-Ed in Thursday’s Times is a small, sly masterpiece of the genre. It goes without saying, obviously, that Soviet-style rhetorical tells are entirely absent. Nothing here about running dogs of imperialism, dustbins of history, or rapacious capitalism. But the essay is equally free of the tropes of the New Russia, the Russia whose embrace of rapacious capitalism is about as close as the Putin regime gets to a ruling ideology. For readers of the Times, no belligerent nationalism, no crude populism, no insecure defensiveness.

Author of bedroom tax report defends findings after government's attack

A United Nations special investigator has said that she had never faced such a hostile reaction from a country after her preliminary findings on the coalition's bedroom tax policy prompted a vicious response from the rightwing media and Conservative politicians.

The UN's special rapporteur on housing, Raquel Rolnik, a Brazilian academic, was dubbed a "Brazil nut" and "a dabbler in witchcraft who offered an animal sacrifice to Marx" in some of Wednesday's newspapers after she had called for the bedroom tax to be abolished.

Estate agents and surveyors call for house price growth cap

The Bank of England should take action to cap house price rises at 5% a year in order to prevent a dangerous new property bubble, reckless lending and a build-up in consumer debt, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) says.

In the latest stark warning about the housing market, Rics – which represents surveyors and estate agents – is calling on the Bank to limit house price inflation to rein in consumers' and lenders' expectations and give a clear sign of when the Bank would use its new powers to calm the market. This week, the organisation warned that house prices are rising at their fastest rate since their 2006 peak.

Could Obama’s Syria Diplomacy Lead to War?

On Wednesday, a diplomatic solution to disarm Syria of its chemical weapons crept forward. Unlike the preceding days, when policy seemed to be made on the fly, the negotiations Wednesday moved behind closed doors. “I’m not going to negotiate this out in public,” said Secretary of State John Kerry, upon his departure for Geneva for talks with his Russian counterpart, foreign minister Sergey Lavrov. Meanwhile, in New York, the five members of the United Nations Security Council debated a draft resolution calling on Syria to relinquish its chemical weapons or face an attack. The final outcome of all this diplomacy is unclear. It could be fruitless, it could lead to the peaceful disarmament of Assad, or it could even lead to a deeper U.S. military role in Syria.

Decades-Long Peace Vigil Outside White House Dismantled By Police

WASHINGTON -- Nearly every tourist who comes to Washington, D.C., remembers the moment they first laid eyes on the White House. And many of them also remember looking directly across the street and spotting the little white tent surrounded by anti-nuclear signs.

But on Thursday morning, that tent was gone.

Concepcion “Connie” Picciotto, 77, had maintained her peace vigil since Aug. 1, 1981, making it the longest-running political protest in the United States. Her tent was modest, described by the Washington Post in a recent profile as "an old patio umbrella draped in a white plastic sheet secured with binder clips."

I 'Got Snatched': Daniel McGowan's Bizarre Trip Through America's Prison System

Daniel McGowan was in the yard of the Federal Correctional Institution in Sandstone, Minn., when his name rang out over the loudspeaker. It had been eight months since he first reported to the low-security prison to start a seven-year sentence for conspiracy and arson. To pass the time, he worked as an orderly in the prison psychology department, took correspondence classes and exercised.

Sandstone, located nearly smack-dab in the middle of the country, was about as far removed as McGowan could be from his wife, Jenny Synan, in New York and from his former compatriots in the Earth Liberation Front in Oregon, with whom he had been caught in a national law enforcement sweep. But he still kept in touch with the outside world, writing passionate articles about the environment and prisons for publications like the Earth First! Journal. He was allotted 300 minutes of phone time a month. And on the rare occasions when Synan could get away from work, she would come see him. In the prison's visiting room, they would hug and kiss and play board games together.

Elizabeth Warren: 'I Don't Understand The Logic' Of Congress Not Acting On 'Too Big To Fail'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) spoke on the five-year anniversary of the financial crisis, saying Congress should act to end "too big to fail" financial institutions.

"There are many who say, sure, 'too big to fail' isn't over yet, but Congress should wait to act further because the agencies still have to issue a bunch of Dodd-Frank's required rules,'" Warren said, according to her prepared remarks. "True, there are rules left to be written, but that’s because the agencies have missed more than 60 percent of Dodd-Frank’s rulemaking deadlines."

Inequality for All: Robert Reich Warns Record Income Gap Is Undermining Our Democracy

Five years ago this weekend, the Wall Street giant Lehman Brothers collapsed triggering the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Today, the divide between the 1 percent and the 99 percent is as great as ever. According to one recent study, the top 1 percent has captured about 95 percent of the income gains since the recession ended. “Since the recovery, almost all of the gains have gone to the very, very top. People who are in the top 1 percent are doing even better than they did before the Great Recession, better than they have done since 1928,” says former Labor Secretary Robert Reich. “Most Americans are on a downward escalator. Median wage in the United States, adjusted for inflation, keeps on dropping.” Reich is the focus of the new film, “Inequality for All.” In this interview, he also talks about Syria, the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street on September 17, Obama’s healthcare plan and Milton Friedman’s connection to the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile.

Author: --

Babak Andalib-Goortani Verdict: G20 Cop Found Guilty Of Assaulting Protester

TORONTO - The criminal conviction of a Toronto police officer for assaulting a protester during the G20 summit three years ago was hailed as a victory for the hundreds of demonstrators who were rounded up and arrested that weekend.

Const. Babak Andalib-Goortani was convicted Thursday of assault with a weapon after a judge found he used excessive force during the arrest of protester Adam Nobody on June 26, 2010, on the lawn of the Ontario legislature.

Nanos Number: Fewer Canadians Want Closer Security With U.S.

Twelve years after the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States, fewer Canadians say the U.S. and Canada should move towards closer cooperation on national security.

A survey by Nanos Research and the State University of New York at Buffalo, conducted as the United States looks to its allies for support for a military strike against Syria, found support among Canadians for closer cooperation on national security with the U.S. was down significantly from just one year ago.

Free the Cuban Five! Lies, conspiracy and hypocrisy fuel 'What Lies Across the Water' to deliver the truth

What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five
by Stephen Kimber (Fernwood Publishing, 2013; $29.95)

On September 12, 1998, the FBI mounted coordinated raids in locations across the state of Florida, arresting ten people. The FBI alleged that they were members of a Cuban spy network, sent by Castro to undermine the security of the United States of America.

They were also accused in the deaths of four Cuban exiles from Miami, who had been shot down by the Cuban Air Force in 1996.

Robocalls: Will we ever know what really happened?

Michael Sona is the great exaggerator, a guy who loved tall tales and couldn’t resist the urge when telling people about the alleged use of robocalls to misdirect voters in the 2011 election.

This, at least, is what colleagues of Mr. Sona have told investigators probing the robocalls affair in Guelph and other constituencies across the country.

Strangely — according to this report — Conservative party lawyer Arthur Hamilton was in the room as investigators questioned Sona’s colleagues and prompted them on what to say.

Larry Summers' Citigroup Problem

Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers' consulting gig with the banking behemoth Citigroup could come back to haunt him if he is nominated to succeed Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve. Bernanke's term expires in January, and Summers and Janet Yellen, the central bank's vice-chair, appear to be front-runners for the post, with media reports suggesting that President Barack Obama is fond of the controversy-prone Summers. But there may be a hitch with a Summers appointment. After Obama took office in 2008, he enacted sweeping ethics rules that say that no presidential appointee can work on matters directly related to a former employer for two years after taking a government job. That means that unless Obama grants Summers an exemption from the rules—a move that could be politically controversial—the former Treasury secretary will have to recuse himself from a slew of Fed decisions involving Citi, which is the third-largest bank in America. Experts say those recusals could hamper Summers' ability to run the Fed effectively.

Wisconsin Collective Bargaining Reforms Do Not Violate Workers' Constitutional Rights: Judge

MILWAUKEE, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Wisconsin's controversial collective bargaining reforms do not violate the free speech and equal protection rights of public sector union workers, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

The reforms, passed in 2011 by Republican lawmakers, severely limit the bargaining power of public sector unions while forcing most state workers to pay more for benefits such as health insurance and pensions. They also made payment of union dues voluntary and forced unions to be recertified every year.

Original Article
Author: Reuters

UK To Privatize Royal Mail This Fall, Prompting Calls For Strike

LONDON — The U.K. coalition government has confirmed plans to privatize the country's 500-year-old Royal Mail this fall.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said Thursday an initial public offering of a majority stake in the postal service was scheduled for the coming weeks.