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.]

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Reason Canada's Federal Debt Reached $671 Billion

Ever wonder how Canada's net federal debt reached $671 billion by 2013? Or how net provincial debt among the provinces ended up at $509 billion that same year? Wonder no more. It's partially due to massive subsidies to corporations, government businesses and even consumers that over three decades amounted to $684 billion.

Statistics Canada once collected useful information about such taxpayer-funded government subsidies. The subsidies include funding for corporations (think selected automotive and aerospace companies), or Crown corporations like VIA Rail, or a government-owned ferry system to subsidize consumers' ferry rides.

Koch Brothers' Secrets Revealed In New Book

WASHINGTON -- Charles and David Koch are the unofficial standard-bearers of a new generation of billionaires, willing to spend immense sums to influence politics. Best known for bankrolling the tea party movement, the fiercely private Koch family has achieved a quasi-mythical status in political circles. Yet they remain an enigma to most Americans.

Sons of Wichita: How the Koch Brothers Became America’s Most Powerful and Private Dynasty aims to change that. Written by Mother Jones senior editor Daniel Schulman, the biography, set to be released Tuesday, draws on hundreds of interviews with Koch family and friends, as well as thousands of pages of legal documents. The Huffington Post received a copy of the book on Friday.

Utah Lawmaker: Bring Back Firing Squad Executions

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — In the wake of a botched lethal injection in Oklahoma last month, a Utah lawmaker says he believes a firing squad is a more humane form of execution. And he plans to bring back that option for criminals sentenced to death in his state.

Rep. Paul Ray, a Republican from the northern Utah city of Clearfield, plans to introduce his proposal during Utah's next legislative session in January. Lawmakers in Wyoming and Missouri floated similar ideas this year, but both efforts stalled. Ray, however, may succeed. Utah already has a tradition of execution by firing squad, with five police officers using .30-caliber Winchester rifles to execute Ronnie Lee Gardner in 2010, the last execution by rifle to be held in the state.

Why You Should Worry About the Election of Narendra Modi in India

Who is Narendra Modi, and why should we be afraid?

Modi, of course, is the leader of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party, a rightist, Hindu nationalist party, which won big in India’s weeks-long national election, and Modi will become India’s next prime minister now that 550 million ballots have been counted. In ousting the Congress party, the BJP will drag India much farther than it has ever been into a sectarian and even militant view of the role of Hindus in India and beyond, and it’s very possible that relations between India and Pakistan will get a lot worse under Modi. Because Modi is, above all, a pro-business advocate, he’ll be careful not to rush into a confrontation with either Pakistan or China. But those relationships, already not good, are certainly not likely to improve under the BJP. (Markets were sharply higher in India after Modi’s win was confirmed.)

60 Years Ago Today, The Supreme Court Told Schools to Desegregate. Here's How Fast We're Backsliding.

Sixty years ago, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation in schools was unconstitutional. The changes required by Brown v. Board of Education decision were not immediate, but they were profound and lasting. Today, schools in the South are the least segregated for black students in the nation.

Of course, that doesn’t tell the whole story. In honor of the Brown anniversary, UCLA’s Civil Rights Project released a report that analyzes the progress of desegregation since 1954. According to the report, starting in the 1980s, schools began to ditch integration efforts and shift focus to universal education standards as a way to level the playing field for students in unequal schools. In 1991, when the Supreme Court ruled that school districts could end their desegregation plans, it put the nail in integration's coffin.

One Day of Honouring Veterans Will Never Make Up For a Lifetime of Disrespect

When I was asked to write about the Day of Honour I found it difficult. I knew that the sooner I finished the better, but I had a hard time wrapping my head around it. The ceremony itself went off without a hitch. The military worked within the seven-week time frame flawlessly, DND followed the word of command and put on a parade that would make Caesar jealous, while cities across Canada honoured the 40,000-plus Afghan veterans with a display of gratitude that was truly appreciated. Despite these facts, I have misgivings about painting a happy picture of military affairs in Canada. One day of organized remembrance does not undo the actions -- or lack thereof -- of our government on every other day. I fear that our veterans continue to be mistreated and disrespected within a system that ignores their sacrifices on a daily basis.

Minister of Aboriginal Affairs maligns Confederacy of Nations in Question Period

For those who follow Parliament, the Conservatives willfully misleading, and often hate and venom-filled responses to Question Period are nothing new. Yet, the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs' response to NDP Aborginal Affairs critic, Jean Crowder's invitation at the behest of the Confederacy of Nations, who are meeting this week in Ottawa, is jaw dropping. Here is part of the transcript:
Ms. Jean Crowder (Nanaimo—Cowichan, NDP):      Mr. Speaker, today, for the first time since 2004, the Confederacy of Nations is meeting. Fifty first nations delegates from all over over Canada will discuss their concerns about the education act, Bill C-33. They want to sit down with the Minister of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Developmentand discuss fair and equitable funding for first nations' education.    Will the minister agree to meet with the Confederacy of Nations?
    Mr. Speaker, I think members of the House will agree that we should have members condemn, in the strongest terms, the threats of those rogue chiefs who are threatening the security of Canadians, their families, and taxpayers.
Watch the full back and forth, and read a report from APTN about the meeting of the Confederacy of Nations here.

Original Article

Let's Talk Dirty about Water

Round up the children and send them to their rooms to play something mindlessly destructive on their PlayStation screens. I am about to use language scandalous to the ears of the typical socially-conscious Canadian. I am about to use the M-word. Also the C-word.

We're talking here about water. The sine qua non of life. The sacramental symbol of every religion. The blue stuff spattered about the national map and identity. The pride and perennial hair-trigger of Canadian nationalism.

How a ‘New Secessionist’ Movement Is Threatening to Worsen School Segregation and Widen Inequalities

A new secessionist movement, anchored in the South, provides yet another reminder that “separate” still means “unequal” when it comes to the racial dynamics of the nation’s public schools.

The small middle-class town of Gardendale, Alabama, outside Birmingham, voted on November 12 to secede from the Jefferson County school district and then to raise taxes on themselves to finance the solo venture. Then, in March, Gardendale’s 14,000 residents finally got their own Board of Education. Soon after his appointment, one new board member, Clayton “Dick” Lee III, a banker and father of two, said he aspires to build a “best in class” school system “which exceeds the capabilities of the system which we are exiting.”

Canada trimmed Russia sanctions to protect business interests

(Reuters) - Canada broke with the United States and did not impose sanctions on two key allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin because the pair had Canadian business interests, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The revelation puts into question the government's tough line on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. Prime Minister Stephen Harper recently compared Putin's actions to those of Adolf Hitler in the run-up to World War Two.

Our military’s disgrace

Rape in the Military. That was the headline on a Maclean’s cover in 1998—one of four cover stories that year stemming from a nine-month investigation into disturbing behaviour in the Canadian Forces. Now, 16 years later, Maclean’s and its sister publication, L’actualité, have come together to publish another months-long investigation into the sexual violence that still plagues our military. L‘actualité reporters Noémi Mercier and Alec Castonguay talked to dozens of victims, attended court martials, culled statistics and documents under Access to Information, and visited bases across the country and Afghanistan. This story is the result of their investigation: