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 23, 2015

Liberty Students Would Have Been Fined If They Skipped Ted Cruz's Speech

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) delivered his first official 2016 presidential campaign speech Monday during a convocation ceremony at Liberty University, a religious institution in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The room was packed for Cruz's speech, but the crowd wasn't all there just to applaud the senator's big announcement, which was first shared on Twitter. Some of the students who witnessed the launch of Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign were, in the words of Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, only in attendance so they wouldn’t get fined.

Earth at Risk in New Epoch Ruled by Destructive Humans

LONDON—Nature has been replaced by humans as the driving force behind changes on the planet—and we need to take urgent action if we are to avoid our own destruction.

This is the view of two scientists—including a Nobel prize winner—who support the theory that the planet has entered a new Anthropocene epoch that has succeeded the Holoscene, the  current geological warm period that began at the end of the ice age 11,500 years ago.

Income-Splitting ‘Like Socialism For The Wealthy,' Former Harper Speechwriter Michael Taube Writes

A former speechwriter for Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the Harper government’s income-splitting plan is “like socialism for the wealthy,” and is warning the Tories that the policy is bad politics.

“When you really think about income splitting, it’s the equivalent of state-run socialism for the wealthy,” Michael Taube wrote in a column in the Toronto Sun.

“A few of us will shift income to get a tax credit directly from the government, paid for by taxpayers. Doesn’t have much to do with free enterprise and the private sector, I’m afraid.”

Why a $7000 Benefit Is An Insult to Veterans' Families

This week, Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) announced a proposed benefit of $7,238 for family members caring for severely ill or injured veterans. You'd think Jenifer Migneault, the wife of a man who suffers from PTSD, would be celebrating. But she's not.

The 42-year-old Quebecois woman is known in Parliament for chasing the former minister of Veterans Affairs, Julian Fantino, down a hallway to plead for help. Her husband, Claude Rainville, served for 20 years as a traffic technician in countries such as Rwanda, Syria and Haiti. "Mr. Fantino, as a spouse, can I talk to you please?" she yelled last May after a committee meeting, as the minister and his staff ignored her and kept walking.

El Salvador Farmers Successfully Defy Monsanto

The perils of ingesting food that has any contact with a Monsanto-produced product are in the news on nearly a weekly basis.

As Dr. Jeff Ritterman has documented, Monstanto's herbicide, Roundup, has been linked to a fatal kidney disease epidemic, and has also been repeatedly linked to cancer.

Recently, a senior research scientist at MIT predicted that glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, will cause half of all children to have autism by 2025.

Despite Known Risk of Spill, U.S. to Let Shell Drill in Arctic

In spite of estimates of a 75 percent or greater chance of an ecologically disastrous spill, the U.S. government is expected this week to give the green light to Shell Oil’s plan to restart drilling for petroleum in the Arctic.

Environmentalists who have campaigned against the proposed exploration by the Anglo-Dutch group in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas off Alaska are likely to protest the decision, which was made by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

How The Supreme Court Could Repeal The 20th Century

Here’s a short history of the Supreme Court:
Dred Scott was a sweeping pro-slavery ruling, rooted in the notion that people of African descent are “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.” Though America ratified threeconstitutional amendments to wipe away slavery, white supremacy, and the racist vision of society behind Dred Scott, the Supreme Court spent the next 30 years neutering these amendments. Then they spent the next 40 years rewriting one of them into a license for employers to exploit their workers. Along the way, the justices held that a woman could be cut up against her will and sterilized. And they endorsed laws making criticism of the nation’s wartime policies a crime.

Ted Cruz’s Biggest Liability Is Probably His Constant Lying

Politicians lie. It’s almost non-controversial; elected officials are advocates who want to show themselves and their causes in the best possible light. Nobody tells the whole truth.

Senator Ted Cruz wants you to think he is different: the video he released Monday morning ahead of his presidential campaign announcement was titled “Time for truth.” Those were also the first words he spoke at Liberty University after making his official announcement.

Norway's Sovereign Wealth Fund Holds Lessons For Canada

In Stavanger, a quaint, seaside city on Norway’s coast, a local newspaper publishes a series called "The Oil Kids" that reports on the lifestyles of wealthy second-generation beneficiaries of Norway’s offshore oil riches.

“If you compare to our parents or grandparents which built this country, I think we’re a little bit spoiled," admits Bjorn Knudsen, whose father worked for a large North Sea oil company.

Fifty years ago, Stavanger's biggest industry was canning herring. Now, this city is the country's de facto oil capital.

Ontario's Ring Of Fire, Formerly 'The Next Oilsands,' Sold For Peanuts

A junior miner will soon be the biggest player in Ontario’s fledgling Ring of Fire mining development, after agreeing to pay US$20 million for the properties of Cliffs Natural Resources, a U.S. mining giant who has abandoned hope of developing the area.

Toronto-based Noront Resources is getting quite the deal for about 103 mining claims -- including Cliffs’ flagship $3.3 billion Black Thor chromite deposit -- in the region estimated to be worth $50 billion during the height of the commodity boom. Cliffs paid $240 million for the assets in 2009.

Job quality in Canada at 25-year low, says CIBC

Not happy in your job? Feel like you can’t get ahead. A new study by CIBC Economics says you may have ample reason.

CIBC says its index of Canadian employment quality is at a 25-year low, and nothing the Bank of Canada can do to adjust interest rates is likely to fix the situation.

In fact, its job quality index has been trending down for the past 25 years and is 10 per cent below its level in the 1990s, the CIBC report said.

Everything you need to know about the Middle East to keep you safe from Bill C-51

Dear Mr. O'Malley, or may I call you Peter?
Thank you for your letter and your highly perspicacious questions. You write:
"Harper has now decided that Canada must play an important role in the centuries-long Shia-Sunni war within Islam. Well okay, but I'm unclear which side we're on. I think we're now Shias, right? 
"Fact is, Canadians need to know the answer here, because under the new laws, if we promote support for the wrong warring Islamic sect, we could be subject to life in prison. 
"Perhaps you could explain exactly why the sect we support is terrific, and why the sect we oppose should die." 

Florida's State Employees are Preparing for Climate Change, Even as Their Governor Bans the Phrase

From years of reporting on government employees, I know that they're in it for the long haul. Governors and news cycles come and go. The public's attention is beagle-fickle. But there are 25 years to go before pension. So I wasn't expecting any heroes to rock the boat from inside the vast bureaucracy that is Florida's government when I began to investigate the silent treatment given the terms "climate change" and "global warming" within state agencies.

After we at the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (FCIR) broke that story, I still found the idea galling: that professionals, many of them scientists, allowed themselves to be cowed from using basic scientific language. After all, that keep-your-head-down mentality has allowed the administration of Republican Gov. Rick Scott to get away with this for the past four years. But perhaps it's also comforting. The employees I've found during my reporting are nonetheless the ones doing the long thinking, working to address the effects of climate change, even as they have to hunker to avoid political interference. They know they'll be here when Rick Scott is gone. So will the problems they're working on.

Here’s Why It’s Time to Give Up the Idea That Everyone Must Go to College

I know a high school senior who’s so worried about whether she’ll be accepted at the college of her choice she can’t sleep.

The parent of another senior tells me he stands at the mailbox for an hour every day waiting for a hoped-for acceptance letter to arrive.

Parents are also uptight. I’ve heard of some who have stopped socializing with other parents of children competing for admission to the same university.

Ted Cruz Is About To Announce For President. Here’s What You Need To Know About Him

The Houston Chronicle reported Sunday that first-term Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will announce a presidential bid on Monday. He is expected to do so in a speech at Liberty University, a Lynchburg, Virginia-based Evangelical University founded by the late televangelist Jerry Falwell and known for its far-right social policies.
Cruz has been an outspoken critic of those in the GOP who he says want to “abandon” the “Judeo-Christian values” on which the country was founded. At Liberty, those values include prohibitions on out-of-wedlock sex and entertainment that might “incite behaviors that are contrary to the Bible and/or the Liberty Way” such as “promiscuity” or “gratuitous crass language/behavior.”

20 Obamacare Stats Republicans Don't Want You to See

When Obamacare launched its glitchy insurance marketplace in October 2013, a measly 106,000 people signed up for new health plans in its first month. That was then. A quick checkup on the health of the Affordable Care Act finds that it is alive and kicking—for now.

Is Trudeau just handing the election to Harper ?

What’s the difference between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao compared to Justin Trudeau and Thomas Mulcair?

Every boxing fan wants to see the first pair settle matters in the ring this May 2 in Las Vegas. Conversely, no progressive politico relishes a fight between Trudeau and Mulcair. That’s because it just might leave Stephen Harper wearing the championship belt again.

Trudeau must be realizing about now that Mulcair is no Patrick Brazeau when it comes to inside fighting.

Bill C-51 hearings: National Firearms Association pulls out

The National Firearms Association, which had been scheduled to speak against the government's proposed anti-terrorism bill, has pulled itself off the list of witnesses scheduled for Monday's public safety committee meeting on Parliament Hill.

The group has not been rescheduled, the committee clerk confirmed to CBC News.

The NFA's lawyer, Solomon Friedman, had been scheduled to share a panel with Open Media executive director Steve Anderson and was expected to raise concerns about Bill C-51. The bill has already been roundly criticized for including measures that would let government departments share information, as well as for giving the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) broad powers to disrupt unlawful activity.

Communication Security Establishment's cyberwarfare toolbox revealed

Top-secret documents obtained by the CBC show Canada's electronic spy agency has developed a vast arsenal of cyberwarfare tools alongside its U.S. and British counterparts to hack into computers and phones in many parts of the world, including in friendly trade countries like Mexico and hotspots like the Middle East.

The little known Communications Security Establishment wanted to become more aggressive by 2015, the documents also said.

Why Are Young Workers Shunning the Oilsands?

Extracting oil and gas from the ground is complicated work. It requires a huge amount of technical expertise, especially in places like northern Alberta, where temperatures can plunge to minus 50 degrees. Which is why the professionals who work in Canada's oil and gas sector -- people with titles like exploration geologist, reservoir engineer and rotating equipment specialist -- often earn six-figure salaries. But an annual survey of the oil and gas workforce has revealed a surprising trend.

More than one-third of those professionals in Canada are Baby Boomers. And as they approach retirement, not enough young people are entering the sector to replace them. "The oil and gas industry... used to be the place to go to have a great career that could take you all over the world doing exciting things," said Jim Fearon, vice-president at the Canadian division of Hays, a recruitment firm that each year releases a report tracking the salary levels and demographics of oil and gas professionals across the world.

New records detail how climate-change views scuttled artist's grant

A British Columbia artist and environmental activist accuses government of misusing its censorship powers to hide a politically driven effort to silence her because of her views on climate change and the oilsands.

Franke James found herself on the federal government’s radar in the spring of 2011 after Canadian diplomats agreed to offer a $5,000 grant in support of a European art tour featuring James’s artwork. The grant was revoked a few days later by a senior director of the Foreign Affairs Department’s climate change division, who felt the funding would “run counter to Canada’s interests.”

Tories ready to ram anti-terror bill through hearings

Bill C-51, the government’s proposed anti-terror legislation, resumes barrelling through Parliament on Monday, with 36 witnesses expected to testify at marathon House of Commons hearings this week and the Conservatives expected to force a quick committee vote approving the disputed security legislation before the Commons recesses for Easter.

There is no sign so far that the Tories will bow to opposition demands to soften the bill. Chief among critics’ concerns are worries about lawful protesters being labelled potential national security threats, dramatic additional powers at home and abroad for Canada’s spies, and insufficient independent oversight of the state’s increasingly powerful security apparatus.