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, February 24, 2014

What makes Israeli apartheid apartheid?

"If I were to change the names, a description of what is happening in Gaza and the West Bank could describe events in South Africa." -- Nobel Laureate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu 1989

What is Apartheid?

Apartheid is the Afrikaans word for 'separateness' or 'separate development.' Historically, it was used to refer to the set of discriminatory policies implemented in South Africa from 1948 to 1994. The South African regime had instituted a legal and social system which was designed to maintain domination of whites over people of color. This racist system was eventually abolished after an anti-apartheid struggle which finally led to the election of Nelson Mandela as South Africa's first black president in 1994.

That 'market freedom'? What a surprise, it's wiping out farmers and enriching the 1%!

Remember the "market freedom" the Harper Government was congratulating itself so heartily for delivering to Western Canada's grain farmers a few weeks ago?
To create that "freedom," Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz and the trained seals in the federal Tory caucus have all but killed the Canadian Wheat Board. Now the freedom they boast about is killing the prices farmers get for their grain and enriching railroads and multinational food corporations.
Gee, who'd have predictedthat?
An editorial last Monday in the Saskatoon Star Phoenixquoted Vergreville-Wainwright Tory MP Leon Benoit complaining that wheat that sold a year ago for $9 a bushel is now fetching less than $4 for the farmers who grow it.

Granville Street Homeless Kicking Is No One-Off

"I'll fuck you up," the man screams at the homeless panhandler as he rears back to kick him in the groin.

Clearly, he wants to hurt him. Badly. After all, he just offered to pay the panhandler $50 for the privilege of doing so.

But as the heavyset man's leg goes flying, the panhandler flinches and the target is missed.

Has Big Oil Hijacked Democracy?

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power." -- Benito Mussolini

With the announcement by the B.C. Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) of formal complaints against the RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) for illegally spying on environmental groups opposed to the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline, should we ask the question: are we there yet?

Well, no.

In BC, a Hellish Hunt for Childcare

"Sorry, we don't have any available spaces for your son."

It was a message Kristina Kernohan and Alexis Morgan heard over and over. They knew it wouldn't be easy to find childcare for their son, Bevyn, but they hadn't imagined what a nightmare it would turn out to be.

When Kernohan started searching in November 2012, Bevyn was five months old and she had 10 months left before she had to return to her job as an on-call teacher. School holidays meant three months extra maternity leave for Kernohan.

Report: Obama Administration Considers Assassinating Another American Overseas

The Associated Press is reporting the White House is considering using a drone to kill an American citizen who is allegedly a member of al-Qaeda. The AP did not name the man or the country where he is residing. The Obama administration has killed four U.S. citizens in drone strikes since 2009, including Anwar al-Awlaki and his son in separate strikes in Yemen. We get response to the latest news from investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald of the new digital magazine,

Author: --

Death By Metadata: Jeremy Scahill & Glenn Greenwald Reveal NSA Role in Assassinations Overseas

In the first exposé for their new venture, First Look Media’s digital journal The Intercept, investigative journalists Jeremy Scahill and Glenn Greenwald reveal the National Security Agency is using complex analysis of electronic surveillance, rather than human intelligence, as the primary method to locate targets for lethal drone strikes. The NSA identifies targets based on controversial metadata analysis and cellphone tracking technologies, an unreliable tactic that has resulted in the deaths of innocent and unidentified people. The United States has reportedly carried out drone strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cellphone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike. Scahill and Greenwald join us in this exclusive interview to discuss their report and the launch of their media project.

Author: --

Norway's sovereign wealth fund 'is example for oil-rich nations'

Norway has much to teach spendthrift nations such as the UK, its outgoing prime minister has said.

Jens Stoltenberg said indebted European nations should look to Norway, which has become one of the wealthiest countries in the world mainly by refusing to spend its huge oil revenues and placing them instead in a sovereign wealth fund.

"That way the fund lasts for ever," he said in a speech at Harvard University. "The problem in Europe with the deficits and the debt crisis is that many European countries have spent money they don't have. The problem in Norway is that we don't spend money we do have. That requires a kind of political courage."

What Norway did with its oil and we didn’t

When oil was discovered in the Norwegian continental shelf in 1969, Norway was very aware of the finite nature of petroleum, and didn’t waste any time legislating policies to manage the new-found resource in a way that would give Norwegians long-term wealth, benefit their entire society and make them competitive beyond just a commodities exporter.

“Norway got the basics right quite early on,” says John Calvert, a political science professor at Simon Fraser University. “They understood what this was about and they put in place public policy that they have benefited so much from.”

Federal budget 2012: cuts to Elections Canada, environmental assessment, CBC

Finance minister Jim Flaherty announced the Conservative government's new budget today: highlights include 19,200 government jobs cut, less funding for CBC and the environment, and the end of the penny. New Democrat leader Thomas Mulcair had promised a fight over cuts -- and his reaction was swift.

"This budget attacks the very institutions that make Canada what it is,” Mulcair said in his reaction to the budget. “Conservatives want to balance the books on the backs of seniors who can’t retire with dignity, and families without a family doctor. New Democrats will hold them accountable for that."

This year's deficit is $21.1 billion. Rumours of an austerity budget rang true, but not as far as some had feared -- or others hoped.

Universities Are Cutting Tenured Faculty While They Load Up on 'Non-Academic' Administrators

As the cost of college remains exorbitant, recent trends indicate schools in the United States are trading tenured professors for non-academic administrative staff. It's pretty clear where American colleges have their priorities, and it's not in academics. Students are paying more to attend schools that are spending less to teach them, and instead spending that tuition money on administration.

After a year of Conservative scandals, why would First Nations want them running their schools?

They say absolute power corrupts one absolutely, but this saying would not even begin to describe this Conservative government under Prime Minister Stephen Harper's leadership. There has never been a more dictatorial, aggressive, scandal-laden government than Harper's "Cons". "Cons" is a fitting nickname for this ruling Conservative party given the countless scandals since they have come to power.
Harper's control over his own party, together with his party's majority power in the House and Senate has made him so arrogant that he appears unconcerned about the extreme excesses of his "people". His over-confidence is apparent in his bullying tactics within the party ranks and in his dictatorial governance style. He wields his majority power like an iron sword through the hearts and minds of Canadians. He acts as though he is untouchable and has such control over his own people that they will fall on their swords before implicate Harper. Now, this government wants to control the fate of First Nations children in their new First Nations Education Act. This is a scary thought.

Government appeals judge’s ruling on ‘outsourced’ spying

OTTAWA — The government is fighting a court decision lambasting its domestic spy agency and federal lawyers for deliberately misleading the court when they applied for warrants to intercept Canadians’ electronic communications.

News of the appeal surfaced during a Senate committee meeting this week that heard testimony from three of Canada’s top national security executives. Details, including grounds for the appeal, are secret on the direction of Federal Court of Appeal Chief Justice Pierre Blais.

The contentious and classified Nov. 22 Federal Court of Canada decision, a redacted version of which was made public in December, ordered the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to stop using so-called 30-08 warrants to outsource spying on Canadians abroad to allied foreign intelligence services.

Gay asylum seekers face 'humiliation'

Home Office officials are under fire for using "shockingly degrading" lines of questioning when interviewing gay and lesbian asylum seekers, despite clear guidance that such an approach is unacceptable.

A confidential Home Office document leaked to the Observer reveals how one bisexual asylum seeker was asked a series of lurid questions by a Home Office official, including: "Did you put your penis into x's backside?" and "When x was penetrating you, did you have an erection? Did x ejaculate inside you. Why did you use a condom?"