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, May 02, 2014

Safety and climate concerns as oil-by-rail surges forward in North America

On April 23, Canada's minister of transport, Lisa Raitt, announced changes to railway transportation regulations in Canada that she says will make safe the rapidly growing transport of crude oil and Alberta tar sands bitumen in North America.
Raitt's changes come in response to citizen pressure following a string of spectacular oil train crashes in the past nine months, most particularly the crash in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec on July 6, 2013 that killed 47 people.

I was born in Canada but my Canadian citizenship has been stripped away

My name is Deepan Budlakoti, and I have been stripped of my Canadian passport.
I was born in Canada at Grace Hospital in Ottawa, which is now closed. I have an Ontario birth certificate. I held a Canadian passport and before that, I was on my mother's Canadian passport for five years. In my passport it says that my nationality is Canadian, the same is true of my younger brother.

RCMP Did Not Consult Public Prosecutor On Nigel Wright

OTTAWA - The RCMP do not appear to have seriously considered using the Parliament of Canada Act to lay charges against Nigel Wright for his central role in the Senate expenses scandal, even though some parliamentary law experts believe the statute offered the best chance of securing a conviction.

Sect. 16 of the act stipulates that it's an indictable offence — punishable by a year imprisonment and a fine of $500 to $2,000 — to offer compensation to a sitting senator in regard to "any claim, controversy, arrest or other matter before the Senate."

CRTC Defenseless After Tories Walk Away From Wireless Code Challenge

OTTAWA - After spending millions of dollars in ads critical of the big wireless companies, the Harper government appears to have walked away from a legal battle over its touted wireless code of conduct.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled this week that the country's telecom regulator could not argue on its own behalf in an appeal by Canada's major service providers over the start date for the wireless code, which is set to kick in by June of next year.

Shawn Atleo, First Nations National Chief, Resigns Amid Education Debate

OTTAWA — Shawn Atleo has abruptly resigned as national chief of the Assembly of First Nations.

Atleo told a hastily assembled news conference Friday in Ottawa that he does not want to be a distraction in the ongoing — and intensifying — debate over the federal government's proposed changes to First Nations education.

The Latest Affirmative Action Decision Isn’t Just About Race

The name of the Supreme Court’s latest case involving university admissions describes the battle lines: Schuette, Attorney General of Michigan v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigrant Rights and Fight for Equality by Any Means Necessary. When the Court found for Schuette, headlines declared the decision a landmark ruling against affirmative action. But technically, the Court did not retreat from its prior holdings: race sensitivity is still a constitutionally permissible criterion when weighing the applications of similarly qualified candidates.

North Korea Makes Ominous Move

SEOUL, May 2 (Reuters) - North Korea has recently conducted engine tests for an intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States, a U.S. think tank said on Friday.

North Korea conducted at least one engine test for the KN-08 missile in late March or early April, the think tank 38 North said, marking the latest in a series of tests for a missile believed to have a range of more than 10,000 km (6,000 miles).


Toward the end of 1981, nearly a year after Ronald Reagan entered the White House, Sir Nicholas Henderson, the United Kingdom’s ambassador to Washington, wrote an annual review, including his observations of the President, and sent it to the Foreign Office, in London. Henderson, a British mandarin—Stowe, Oxford, G.C.M.G., K.C.V.O.—wasn’t exactly impressed with the former actor from Eureka, Illinois. “He has clear-cut opinions, not to say prejudices, as was apparent to me when he told me à propos Keynes that it must not be forgotten that he was a homosexual,” Henderson wrote.

Latest on oil train that crashed and burned in James River and downtown Lynchburg

The latest North American oil train crash occurred yesterday in the heart of the city of Lynchburg, Virginia. Fourteen wagons of crude oil derailed from a CSX train in the middle of the afternoon. The train was pulling 105 crude oil wagons.

A city spokeswoman said three or four wagons caught fire. The burning wagons spilled their loads into the James River. The surface of the river was on fire from the oil contamination. A portion of the city center was evacuated. The river bank where the rail line is located has been saturated by recent rains.

Living Undocumented: A Conversation With Jose Antonio Vargas

Before Jose Antonio Vargas came out publicly as an undocumented immigrant in 2011, the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist was already filming the moments leading up to his big reveal. During an early scene of Documented: A Film by an Undocumented Immigrant, Vargas speaks about the DREAM Act with journalism students at Mountain View High School in California, where he once co-edited the school paper. “I’m going to tell you something that I haven’t told a lot of people,” Vargas says. He announces his intention to come out of the shadows, through his now-famous New York Times Magazine essay and to launch “a whole campaign about what it means to be an American.”

Clueless Bush, and Media, Take Bike Ride With Injured Vets on ‘Mission Accomplished Day’

The former disgraced President George W. Bush chose today—the eleventh anniversary of his “Mission Accomplished” photo op—to hold a bike ride for sixteen badly wounded (physically or mentally) veterans on his Crawford ranch where he once spent seemingly half his time in office (when he wasn’t starting wars).

I don’t know what’s worse—Bush’s cluelessness and lack of remorse or CNN’s reporting this story without a single word about Bush’s choosing to start a war based on lies. Bush hails the damaged vets for volunteering for military service—but he was the true war “volunteer.” They didn’t sign up for a war based fabrication and revenge and what-have-you.

Man Who Set A Trap To Kill 17-Year-Old Intruder Invokes Stand Your Ground-Like Defense

Seventeen-year-old Diren Dede lost his life Sunday, while in Missoula, Montana on a high school exchange program from Germany. He was shot dead at the home of Markus Kaarma, after Kaarma set a trap for intruders by intentionally leaving the garage open and placing a purse in clear view.
After motion sensors detected someone in the garage, Kaarma shot Dede. And while he has since been charged with first degree murder, he is already invoking a Stand Your Ground-like defense.

GOP Senate Candidate Likens Food Stamp Recipients To Wild Animals

A Republican Senate candidate equated food stamp recipients to wild animals in aFacebook post Monday.
The candidate, Dr. Annette Bosworth, is running in the Republican primary to succeed Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.), who is retiring. Bosworth shared a viral imageon her personal Facebook page criticizing the food stamp program for inviting dependency.

Apple, Facebook, others defy authorities, notify users of secret data demands

Major U.S. technology companies have largely ended the practice of quietly complying with investigators’ demands for e-mail records and other online data, saying that users have a right to know in advance when their information is targeted for government seizure.

This increasingly defiant industry stand is giving some of the tens of thousands of Americans whose Internet data gets swept into criminal investigations each year the opportunity to fight in court to prevent disclosures. Prosecutors, however, warn that tech companies may undermine cases by tipping off criminals, giving them time to destroy vital electronic evidence before it can be gathered.

The 800-Pound Gorilla Of The Christian Right

The Alliance Defending Freedom wants to take America back to the 3rd century. Literally. On the website for its legal fellowship program, the organization explains that it “seeks to recover the robust Christendomic theology of the 3rd, 4th, and 5th centuries.”
“This is catholic, universal orthodoxy and it is desperately crucial for cultural renewal,” the explanation goes on. “Christians must strive to build glorious cultural cathedrals, rather than shanty tin sheds.”

Look Who the Folks Who Took Down ACORN Are Targeting Now

In a presentation at the Drake Hotel in Chicago last October, Joseph Kefauver addressed a conference of executives from companies like Nike, Macy’s and Crate & Barrel, among other leading brands. Kefauver, a key player in the rising cottage industry of lobbyists and consultants hired by the retail sector, warned his audience that a new movement was taking hold, one that could leverage the “exponential growth of grassroots networks” to force change at corporations beyond the reach of traditional labor unions. These activists, Kefauver explained in his PowerPoint presentation, could create pressure in the media, throughout a supply chain, and even in the policy and political arena, making them a threat to business’s bottom line unlike any other. In addition, he noted ominously, these new groups are spreading beyond the big cities and blue states and have established a “left-of-center beachhead in traditionally conservative areas.”

This American Refused to Become an FBI Informant. Then the Government Made His Family's Life Hell.

IT WAS AFTER 10 P.M. on July 8, 2009, when Sandra Mansour answered her cellphone to the panicked voice of her daughter-in-law, Nasreen. A week earlier, Nasreen and her husband, Naji Mansour, had been detained in the southern Sudanese city of Juba by agents of the country's internal security bureau. In the days since, Sandra had been desperately trying to find out where the couple was being held. Now Nasreen was calling to say that she'd been released—driven straight to the airport and booked on a flight to her native Kenya—but Naji remained in custody. He was being held in a dark, squalid basement cell, with a bucket for a bathroom and a dense swarm of mosquitoes that attacked his body as he slept. "You have to get him out of there," Nasreen said. But she was unfamiliar with Juba and could only offer the barest details about where they'd been held. "He's in a blue building. You've seen it. It's not far from your hotel."

Rob Ford's Rehab Sugarcoats Reality

It took a second video of Rob Ford allegedly smoking crack to get the mayor of Toronto to finally decide it's time to go to rehab. As an addict, I sympathize with Rob Ford, but I also resent the idea of him using a stint in rehab as a possible grand gesture of an apology.

Celebrities do it all the time when they get caught doing anything the general public deems immoral, from cheating (think Tiger Woods and Tori Spelling's husband Dean McDermott, for instance) to drug use and alcohol binges. It gives rehab a bad name for those of us who've actually benefited from seeking treatment to have people who don't really want help using it as a retreat to hide from the spotlight while they put on a show of remorse.

Canada Post Preparing For Half As Much Mail, CEO Says

Canada Post is preparing for a 50 per cent drop in the volume of mail and will have to reinvent itself over the next five years, says CEO Deepak Chopra.

The Crown corporation, which is weathering a blast of criticism from the public for its decision to end home delivery and raise postal rates, faces major challenges in a tight financial environment, Chopra said in an interview on CBC News Network’s The Lang & O’Leary Exchange.

Fair Elections Act Debate Gets Ugly As Tories Push Bill Forward

OTTAWA - The Conservative bill to tighten up election laws is in the final stages of review at a House of Commons committee, and things are getting ugly.

After long hours of scrutiny of the Fair Elections Act's many clauses, only two technical amendments by the opposition had been approved by Thursday afternoon, and those Liberal measures only tweaked some wording.

Beverley McLachlin, PMO give duelling statements on Nadon appointment fight

The Prime Minister's Office late Thursday suggested that the chief justice of the Supreme Court tried inappropriately to intervene in the process to appoint Justice Marc Nadon, even though her advice came before Nadon's appointment was announced and ultimately would have saved the government an embarrassing defeat.

The appointment of Nadon, a respected Federal Court judge, to replace retired Justice Morris Fish, eventually led to an expensive reference to the Supreme Court about his eligibility, and a public humiliation for Nadon.

Duelling statements over Nadon appointment reveal PMO fight with top court

OTTAWA - The Prime Minister's Office exposed an unprecedented public spat with the chief justice of the Supreme Court on Thursday, issuing a statement suggesting Stephen Harper refused to accept a phone call from Beverley McLachlin about a judicial appointment.

The extraordinary statement came on the heels of a media report that said Conservative government members have become incensed with the top court after a series of stinging constitutional rebukes.