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, October 10, 2014

Pricey EI rate cut will yield only 800 jobs: PBO report

It was touted as a job-creator in a tough job market, but new evidence suggests the Conservative plan to cut Employment Insurance premiums for small business won't achieve its stated goal of making it easier for employers to hire new workers.

And the head of a key lobby group acknowledges the decision by the government may be linked to other political considerations.

In a new report, the parliamentary budget officer, Jean-Denis Fréchette, says the small business job credit announced last month by Finance Minister Joe Oliver would generate only 800 new jobs over two years — 200 new full-time equivalent jobs in 2015 and 600 new jobs in 2016.

Clashes In Kashmir Between India And Pakistan Are The Worst In Years

DHAMALA HAKIMWALA, Pakistan (AP) — Iram Shazadi was making breakfast for her family when bullets started whizzing through her dusty Pakistani village just a half-kilometer (quarter-mile) from the Indian-controlled area of disputed Kashmir.

Then a mortar shell fired by Indian forces slammed into her home, killing her two young sons and her husband's mother in the worst spasm of violence in the tense Himalayan region in years. So far, 19 people — 11 on the Pakistani side, eight on the Indian — have died over the past week. Dozens have been injured, and tens of thousands have fled their homes.

Susan G. Komen Foundation Called Out For 'Most Ludicrous Piece Of Pink Sh*t'

“Doing our bit for the cure.”

It’s an eyebrow-raising slogan drawing new attention to a two-year-old partnership between the Susan G. Koman Foundation and one of the world’s largest oilfield firms, Baker Hughes.

For the second October in a row, the Houston-based company announced it would paint 1,000 of its gold drill bits pink to “serve as a reminder of the importance of supporting research, treatment, screening, and education to help find cures for this disease.”

SNC-Lavalin Walks Back CEO's Comments: 'Intention Was Never To Blackmail'

MONTREAL - SNC-Lavalin says its CEO wasn't attempting to intimidate authorities by suggesting that the engineering giant could be forced to close or sell its operations if it faced criminal charges.

"It is clear that the intention was never to blackmail," said Eric Ryan, vice-president marketing of strategy and external relations in an interview Wednesday.

Governments Should Stop Playing Railway Russian Roulette

Another major disaster happened Oct. 7 involving oil by rail transportation and there was a major derailment of oil train in Saskatchewan. Evacuation of nearby residents but no deaths reported.

That mishap occurred two days after I outlined the dangers inherent as a result of government inaction and massive deployment of trains to transport oil across the U.S. and Canada in the New York Post. Here's that piece:

On July 5, 2013, just before midnight, the sole engineer of a US train carrying 73 carloads of North Dakota crude oil parked miles outside a small town in Quebec on a gentle slope. Less than an hour later the unattended train began to roll downhill and eventually reached a speed of 60 miles per hour before derailing, exploding and destroying the town of Lac-Megantic and killing 47 people.

Toronto Condo Boom 'Looks Like' It's Over: BMO

"It certainly looks” like Toronto’s impressive condo boom has run its course, the Bank of Montreal says in a client note.

Housing starts in Toronto dropped to their lowest point in four-and-a-half years in September, according to new numbers from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC).

“Slower sales witnessed during mid 2012 to mid 2013 have translated to fewer starts," CMHC analyst Dana Senagama said.

For 375,000 Ontarians, Thanksgiving Dinner Isn't a Reality

There is a chill in the air, days are shorter, and leaves are turning beautiful colours of burnt orange, bright red and deep purple. It must be fall, bringing with it Thanksgiving. Tables filled with succulent ham, roast turkeys, fluffy mashed potatoes and delicious pumpkin pie.

This October, however, more than 16,000 families in Ontario will have no other choice but to visit a food bank for the first time in their entire lives. And while the idea of turkey dinner with all the trimmings certainly sounds delicious, for over 375,000 adults and children, it is simply not the reality of the season.

The budget we want … and the budget we’re going to get

Last week, Germany completed its plan to provide free university tuition to all its students. It’s an idea that no doubt would excite the hopes and dreams of young people in Canada — which explains the need to snuff it out before it catches on.

Certainly, it’s the kind of big idea that powerful interests here are keen to keep off the radar as Ottawa finds itself flush with surplus cash — $6 billion next year, with bigger surpluses expected in future years.

Palestinian Unity Cabinet To Meet In Gaza For First Time

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — The new Palestinian unity government toured Gaza and held a Cabinet meeting there for the first time Thursday, aiming to assure donor countries that absolute Hamas control has ended and that it can lead the rebuilding of the war-battered territory.

The visit by the ministers came three days before an international pledging conference for Gaza, to be held in Cairo.

In establishing a foothold in Gaza, the new Cabinet, which reports to Western-backed President Mahmoud Abbas, was trying to signal that the Palestinians' paralyzing political split has come to an end. Hamas had seized Gaza from Abbas in 2007, leaving him with only parts of the West Bank.

YPG: The Kurdish militia battling ISIS jihadists

BEIRUT: The Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) defending the Syrian border town of Ain al-Arab, known by Kurds as Kobani, from ISIS jihadists is the de facto army of Syria’s Kurdish region. Here are some details about the force:

What is the YPG?YPG (Yekineyen Parastina Gel in Kurdish, or People’s Protection Units in English) is a militia operating in majority-Kurdish areas in the north and northeast of Syria. The group is the long-standing armed branch of Syria’s powerful Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD).

Tories change tune on terrorism study

OTTAWA — After a year of ridiculing the idea of “root causes” of terrorism, the Conservative government is commissioning a study into the causes of terrorism.

Conservative MPs, cabinet ministers and Prime Minister Stephen Harper have repeatedly chastised Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau since he said “we have to look at the root causes” of terrorism following the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing.

Government’s suppression of Mount Polley report ‘verges on the absurd’: lawyer

The B.C. government appears to have systemically breached its freedom of information law by withholding information related to the collapse of the tailings dam at the Mount Polley mine, environment lawyers say.

The province has refused to provide recent inspection reports related to the tailings pond, saying such information may undermine any one of three investigations to determine why the dam failed on Aug. 4, sending a torrent of toxic waste and debris into surrounding waterways.

Hotter Oceans Explain Global Warming ‘Pause’

LONDON—One of the most hotly-argued questions in climate research – whether global warming has slowed or even stopped – appears to have been definitively answered. And the scientists’ conclusion is unambiguous: the Earth continues to warm at a dangerous pace.

All that’s happening, they say, is that the extra heat being produced – mainly by the burning of fossil fuels – is concentrating not in the skies but in the seas. They have found new evidence that backs them up.

Victoria McDonald's Reversed Temp Foreign Workers 'No' with a Phone Call

The owner of three McDonald's restaurants at the centre of a Temporary Foreign Worker Program controversy earlier this year was twice denied the positive assessments, called Labour Market Opinions or LMOs, needed to bring in such workers.

After a phone call one of the decisions was reversed just over two weeks later and stamped "ASAP" by government staffers and all subsequent requests were also granted.

The information was revealed in documents obtained by The Tyee through access to information legislation.

Map Shows Abortion Access In Texas Now Only For Wealthy

A series of draconian anti-abortion laws in Texas has closed all but eight of the 44 clinics that operated across the state in 2013. The remaining clinics are all concentrated in urban, high-income areas of the state, leaving poor women unable to reach them easily.

Study: Voter ID Laws Cut Turnout By Blacks, Young

WASHINGTON (AP) — States that toughened their voter identification laws saw steeper drops in election turnout than those that did not, with disproportionate falloffs among black and younger voters, a nonpartisan congressional study released Wednesday concluded.

As of June, 33 states have enacted laws obligating voters to show a photo ID at the polls, the study said. Republicans who have pushed the legislation say the requirement will reduce fraud, but Democrats insist the laws are a GOP effort to reduce Democratic turnout on Election Day.

Emergency Room Wait Times In Canada Are 'Shameful'

TORONTO - Visiting a hospital emergency department often conjures up an image of hours of cooling one's heels before being assessed by a doctor, treated and released.

For most patients, that process takes long enough 7.5 hours or less on average, says a report released Tuesday. But for the 10 per cent of patients who need to be admitted, those waits can be much longer, with one in 10 of those requiring an in-hospital stay waiting in an emergency department more than 28 hours before getting transferred to a bed.

Liberal MP's CSEC Oversight Bill May Be Nixed By House Speaker

A Liberal MP's backbench bid to lift the curtain on the operations of Canada's electronic spy agency and give MPs more oversight over national security issues may not make it to House of Commons finish line after all.

Last June, Joyce Murray introduced the CSEC Accountability and Transparency Act, a sweeping private members' initiative that would impose new reporting and disclosure requirements on the espionage agency.