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, March 02, 2015

To Netanyahu, Peace Is an Existential Threat

To Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, peace between the US and Iran is an existential threat. By now, it should be clear to all: It's not an Iranian nuclear bomb he fears, but a US-Iran deal.

In a tweet earlier this morning, the Prime Minister said as much: "We are strongly opposed to the agreement being formulated between the world powers and Iran that could endanger Israel's very existence."

This Is Why Scott Walker Is Not Presidential Material

I have known Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker since he was a young state legislator. We used to talk a good deal about our differing views on how to reform things: campaign finance rules, ethics regulations, social-welfare programs.

We seldom reached agreement. But I gave him credit for respecting the search for common ground. And for understanding that a disagreement on a particular matter is never an excuse for ending the search—or for disregarding others who are engaged in it.

A Hitchhiker’s Guide to the 2015 election

Think of what follows as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the 2015 election.

It is my intention to street-proof your vote. It needs street-proofing because the old electoral politics of presentation, explanation and proof are mostly dead. Politicians no longer court you, they stalk you. They don’t campaign, they spy, cheat, chisel and connive their way into office.

Every electronic device you own is an unlocked back-door to your privacy and their dirty work. Think of it as information sorcery. The people who ply this relatively new profession, using the social media, are routinely referred to in the mainstream media as “wonder children” or “communications geniuses.”

On Bill C-279, state violence and institutional transphobia

On Wednesday February 25, the Canadian Senate voted 6-4 to amend Bill C-279. Bill C-279 is federal Bill that seeks to bring rights and equality to transgender Canadians, sponsored by NDP MP Randall Garrison and which passed in the house of commons two years ago.

The amendments the Senate wants would essentially render Bill C-279 useless.

Senator Donald Plett with the support of the senate wants the Bill modified so that trans people will not be able to access any 'sex-segregated' facility, such as shelters, crisis facilities, washrooms, school and gym change rooms.

Newfoundland fracking panel lacks diversity and key areas of expertise

In February, the "Public Forum on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Oil and Fracking" drew a full house in western Newfoundland, where anti-fracking sentiment has been growing since 2012 when Shoal Point Energy first suggested it may use fracking to unlock oil from shale rock.
The forum, sponsored by the Social Justice Cooperative of NL and the NL chapter of Save Our Seas and Shores, was organized partially in response to the lack of diversity in the recently announced panel, established by the N.L. government, which will study the socio-economic and environmental implications of fracking in the province, and to address the need to start looking at oil development issues in the area on a regional basis.

Canada's Forgotten Law on Free, Universal Higher Ed

If you've attended a Canadian college or university since 1976, you've been robbed. If you couldn't afford post-secondary at all, you've been robbed twice.

In May 1976, Canada became a signatory to the UN's International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Among many other rights, by signing the Covenant, Canada endorsed Article 13, recognizing "the right of everyone to an education." With clause 2(c), we agreed that "higher education shall be made equally accessible to all, on the basis of capacity, by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education."

Tory Law Forces Canadians to Choose Between Liberty and Security: Mulcair

"You should come and see this," says federal New Democrat Leader Thomas Mulcair before starting a brisk walk from the doors of the parliamentary library to the NDP caucus room.

Rays of light from the setting sun hit the windows of the House of Commons, casting a yellow glow on the grey walls of the corridor where just months ago, a young man thought to have mental health issues was shot and killed by security as he fired at them.

Bullet damage from that day can still be seen on the walls. Mulcair arrives at the door to the NDP caucus room and partly closes it and points to a bullet hole, then pulls back the door to show where the shot was stopped.

Court challenge launched against Conservatives’ election law overhaul

OTTAWA — Two advocacy groups are asking the courts to set aside new Conservative election rules that will make it more difficult for thousands of Canadians to vote in this year's federal election.

The Council of Canadians and the Canadian Federation of Students have filed evidence to support a constitutional challenge of the 2014 reforms, dubbed the Fair Elections Act by the Harper government.

They say new voter identification rules contravene Section 3 of the charter, which states everyone has the right to vote, as well as the equality provisions in the Constitution.

The groups want a court to grant an injunction setting aside new proof-of-residency identification rules for voters, as well as measures in the new elections law that restrict the ability of the chief electoral officer to inform people about their right to vote.

Lawyer Steven Shrybman, who represents the advocacy groups, says the voter-restriction measures alone are enough to throw into question the legitimacy of the next federal election, which is scheduled for mid-October.

The Fair Elections Act was introduced last spring to near universal condemnation from electoral experts from across Canada and abroad, and the Conservatives eventually removed a number of the most contentious aspects of the bill before rushing it through the House of Commons and the Senate.

Original Article
Author: The Canadian Press

Canada's Opposition To Palestine's United Nations Involvement Appalling, Says Envoy

OTTAWA - Canada has formally opposed Palestinian attempts to join 15 different United Nations treaties and conventions — a position that puts the federal government on the wrong side of history and at odds with its citizenry, the Palestinian envoy in Ottawa says.

Canada is objecting in writing to the UN because it maintains Palestine is not a legal state. The Palestinians have formally replied to Canada's objections in writing, issuing a pointed reminder that they won non-member observer status in November 2012 at the UN General Assembly.

Charity law blocks progress on issues facing Canadians

Canadian charities are under attack. Environmental, human rights and international development charities, organizations struggling to address poverty and women’s issues are examples of non-governmental organizations that have lost their ability to issue charitable tax credits under the Income Tax Act. Either that or they face the threat of a loss as a result of ongoing Canada Revenue Agency audits.

These groups have one thing in common. They turned a spotlight onto Harper government policies or advocated for public policy change that might alleviate society’s gravest ills.

Former CSIS officer warns new federal anti-terror bill will ‘lead to lawsuits, embarrassment’

Former CSIS officer Francois Lavigne is alarmed by the Conservative government’s new anti-terror bill.

He believes the measures proposed in C-51 are unnecessary, a threat to the rights of Canadians and that the prime minister is using fascist techniques to push the bill.

Mr. Lavigne started his career with the RCMP security service in 1983, before the CSIS was established.

“I was hired by the barn burners,” he said in an interview last week. “I went to work for the FIU unit, the foreign interference unit. And that was where the barn burners came from.”

Michael Laxer is wrong: Mulcair is not soft on C-51

Writing here on Michael Laxer makes an unconvincing case that NDP Leader Tom Mulcair and his party are wobbly on Harper's anti-terrorist legislation, Bill C-51.
Laxer quotes this writer in support of his flawed argument.
He tries to make the argument that because Mulcair says he would amend C-51, were his Party to take power, not scrap it, the NDP leader has backtracked from his principled opposition to the Bill.

John Legend Speaks to the Crack in the System Caused by Mass Incarceration

In his recent Oscar acceptance speech John Legend gave light to the impact of mass incarceration on America by stating "We live in the most incarcerated country in the world. There are more black men under correctional control today than were under slavery in 1850." By saying this while accepting an Oscar award for the film Selma, he connected mass incarceration to the Civil Rights movement in a single statement, finally allowing the issue of U.S. imprisonment to be seen for its true tragedy.

Out of Trouble, but Criminal Records Keep Men Out of Work

Michael Hugh Mirsky landed a temporary job in December rolling stacks of crated milk and orange juice to the loading docks at a commercial dairy in central New Jersey. He’s not making much, and he doesn’t know how long it will last, but after 30 months of unemployment, he counts himself lucky. Mr. Mirsky is a convicted criminal, and work is hard to find.

A series of unfortunate events that began in 2012 when Mr. Mirsky lost a job as a Verizon technician culminated last year in a guilty plea for resisting arrest. He is facing the foreclosure of his home; his church has told him that he cannot serve as an usher; he is thousands of dollars in arrears on child support payments for his 8-year-old daughter. Even as the economy improves, Mr. Mirsky has been unable to find a permanent position so he can start rebuilding his life.

Lindsey Graham Promises AIPAC Members He Will Cut UN Funding and Derail Iran Negotiations

WASHINGTON -- Speaking to the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee policy conference Sunday morning, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) threatened to cut funding to the United Nations, who he believes is alienating Israel in the international community and tolerating anti-Semitism in Europe. His promise was met with applause and a standing ovation by the nearly 15,000 AIPAC members in attendance.

Though it wasn’t mentioned explicitly, a majority of lawmakers in Congress are protesting the Palestinian Authority's recent ascension to the International Criminal Court, the body responsible for prosecuting war crimes. The court, which has retroactive jurisdiction back to June 13, 2014, in Palestinian territories, would be able to investigate possible violations of the laws of war during last summer’s Gaza-Israel conflict. Graham was one of 75 senators who signed a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry in January, urging for a cessation of U.S. funding to the Palestinian Authority.

Thousands March In Moscow To Mourn Slain Boris Nemtsov

MOSCOW (AP) — For the tens of thousands bearing flowers and tying black ribbons to railings in honor of slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the solemn march through the Moscow drizzle on Sunday was a time for silence, not slogans.

The marchers occasionally broke into chants of "Russia without Putin," or "Say no to war," but often the only sound was the steady thwack of police helicopters overhead or the hum of police boats patrolling the shores of the Moscow River.