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.]

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Just How Bad Is BC's LNG Deal with Petronas?

Last week, the B.C. government released the text of its Project Development Agreement with Pacific Northwest LNG (led by Malaysian state enterprise, Petronas), considered the front-runner in getting B.C. a liquefied natural gas export industry. The agreement goes to the B.C. legislature this week in order to convince Petronas to make a "final investment decision."

There are still other barriers to this project going forward, due to First Nations rights and the province's environmental assessment process. The project hit a major snag when the Lax Kw'alaams First Nation balked at Petronas' proposed site for its LNG terminal. Also, the Gitga'at First Nation has just launched a legal challenge for not being consulted in the development process.

Financial adviser: Clinton won't push Glass-Steagall bank bill

Hours after Hillary Clinton vowed to crack down on Wall Street, an adviser said she has no plans to push a bank break-up bill beloved by the left.

Alan Blinder, a former Federal Reserve official now advising the Clinton campaign, told Reuters Monday that she has no plans to push for the return of a banking law that separates commercial and investment banks.

Harper support buckles in B.C.

Results of polling in four key British Columbia ridings suggest support for the governing federal Conservatives may be buckling in the province as widespread unease with oil tankers takes hold, according to an Insights West poll published Friday.

The NDP surge seen in national polls is borne out by significant voter support for Tom Mulcair as prime minister, even in traditionally Conservative ridings where a full-throttle three-way race is complicated by strong support for the Green Party.

Teachers' Union Girds For Supreme Court Setback, Pledges To Grow Membership

WASHINGTON -- Faced with its gravest threat in years from the Supreme Court, one of the country's largest labor unions is preparing for a ruling that could make it much more difficult to collect fees from the workers it represents.

This weekend, the American Federation of Teachers passed a resolution pledging to speak individually with each of its 1.6 million members about getting more involved in the union. According to the resolution, union officials are developing a plan they hope will double the number of union activists in their ranks.

China Detains Dozens Of Rights Lawyers Amid Sweeping Crackdown

Chinese police detained or questioned over 100 lawyers and human rights advocates this weekend, human rights NGOs reported.

Many of those detained belong to a broad network of lawyers involved in the "rights defense movement" –- a specific term in Chinese that encompasses everything from defending dissident artists to helping farmers resist the government acquisition of their land.

Tsipras faces clash with Syriza radicals opposed to eurozone bailout for Greece

Alexis Tsipras is heading for a showdown with his own party and opposition MPs after the Greek prime minister accepted a third bailout programme that will bring further austerity to the debt-stricken country.

Tsipras, who was locked in fraught negotiations with EU leaders in Brussels throughout Sunday and Monday morning, convened a meeting of government officials in Athens to thrash out a way to convince his radical-leftist Syriza party and its coalition partner to vote through the package by Wednesday.

Is Antonin Scalia Off His Rocker or Just a Sore Loser?

Has Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia completely lost his mind? Or is he better understood as the court’s biggest sore loser, who just can’t accept the fact that his colleagues roundly rejected his blustery constitutional and statutory interpretation when they ruled last month in favor of same-sex marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges and Obamacare in King v. Burwell.

Although I favor sore-loser explanation over the Mad-Hatter analysis there are good reasons to answer both questions in the affirmative. They are not, after all, mutually exclusive.

Hillary Clinton Puts Paycheck Feminism at the Center of Her Economic Agenda

Hillary Clinton’s speech today was the most progressive address on economics by a major-party presidential candidate in a generation. It was strongly feminist and pro-union. It called for “enhancing” Social Security and stepping up prosecutions of Wall Street malefactors, and specifically attacked HSBC, the banking giant and Clinton Foundation donor. The speech marks a decisive break from the technocratic triangulation of her husband’s administration. As Lawrence Mishel points out at the Economic Policy Institute, it was notable that Clinton didn’t propose market-based solutions for wage stagnation, which she defined as the central economic challenge of our time. Rather than offering Third Way panaceas like worker retraining or middle-class tax cuts, she championed strong government intervention on behalf of workers: a higher minimum wage, strengthened collective bargaining, full employment, and cracking down “on bosses who exploit employees by misclassifying them as contractors.”

Canada's Ukraine Embassy A Pawn In 2014 Uprising: CP Report

KYIV, Ukraine - It was one of those events that simply appeared and disappeared during the bloody, swift-moving events of Ukraine in the winter revolution of 2014.

Canada's embassy in Kyiv was used as a haven for several days by anti-government protesters during the uprising that toppled the regime of former president Viktor Yanukovych.

The Harper government never fully acknowledged — during the upheaval or since — the depth and extent of the security breach, which has had far-reaching implications on how Canadians are perceived in the region.

Canada's New Plan For Medical Isotopes Risks Delays, Memo Warns

The top bureaucrat at Natural Resources warned the minister last year about possible risks to the government's plan to use cyclotrons and linear accelerators to make a key medical isotope once the Chalk River reactor is shut down.

CBC obtained a copy of a memo, written by the department's deputy minister to Greg Rickford in January 2014, under an Access to Information Request.

Scott Walker Is Running for President. Here's What You Should Know About Him.

Gov. Scott Walker is set to announce his presidential candidacy on Monday in Waukesha, Wisconsin, joining a crammed field of GOP hopefuls.
In a few short years, the two-term governor has rocketed from obscurity to become a Republican frontrunner thanks to his conservative—and often controversial—stewardship of Wisconsin. After taking office in 2011, he set the tone for his governorship when he rammed through legislation that drastically curbed the power of public employee unions, setting the stage for a showdown with organized labor that made national headlines. As a result of anti-union effort, Walker became the only governor in Wisconsin history to face a recall election. During his tenure, Walker has implemented a hit list of right-wing measures. He signed controversial voter ID legislation, a state budget that defunded Planned Parenthood, and, this spring, a bill that made Wisconsin a right-to-work state. As Walker launches his presidential campaign, he faces an investigation into whether his campaign violated election rules during the recall campaign by coordinating with outside spending groups.

What Is Scott Walker Trying to Hide?

As he prepares to launch his 2016 presidential bid, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is caught up in a hometown controversy that is going from bad to worse.

The governor—whom former White House counsel John Dean refers to as “more Nixonian than Nixon”—has never been much for transparency. But a botched attempt by his legislative allies to gut the state’s open-records law has blown up on Walker in a big way.

No, Mr. Netanyahu, Iran Isn’t Trying to Take Over the World and It Isn’t ISIS

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu charged last week that Iran was the major sponsor of terrorism in the world and that it wants to take over the whole world.  He also likened Iran to the faux caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

Residents Fight Back Against Pittsburgh's Privatized Water Authority

Sandy, who didn't want to give her last name for fear of reprisal, is trembling with anger. For the last six months, the Pittsburgh resident hasn't gotten a bill for water in the mail, and she's fearful she'll be hit all at once by an avalanche of charges. But the worst part is that the charges, should they ever arrive, may not even be accurate; the last time she got a bill it had tripled for no rational reason.

"I had to cut back on everything else," says Sandy, a retiree who lives alone in an apartment. "You don't know if it's going to come in, whether it's late or not, how much it will be. Then you get it and there's a late charge."

Scott Walker Wants To Run The Country. Here Is How He Ran Wisconsin

With the wealthy and powerful Koch brothers behind him and a contentious state budget out of the way, Wisconsin’s polarizing Gov. Scott Walker will announce Monday evening what many have long suspected: that he will seek the Republican nomination for President in 2016.

Much of Walker’s appeal to conservatives lies in his record of enacting far-right policies as the governor of a historically progressive, working class swing state. Riding over more than a century of strong labor history, he passed laws in 2011 stripping away collective bargaining rights from public sector unions, triggering a weeks-long occupation of the state capitol by tens of thousands of protesters. Then, earlier this year, he signed a so-called “right to work” law that will further cripple workplace organizing in the Badger State.

The Church of Organized Labor

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is better known for his union-busting prowess than his evangelical faith, but in recent months he’s been talking more openly about the latter. And for good reason: his bid for the Republican presidential nomination may well rise or fall on whether he can persuade his fellow believers to rally behind him rather than, say, Mike Huckabee. Walker has fashioned a religiously resonant brand (“Our American Revival”) for his free-market gospel, and the early polls from Iowa suggest evangelicals buy it.

Euro Zone Leaders Reach Agreement To Rescue Greece

BRUSSELS/ATHENS, July 13 (Reuters) - Euro zone leaders made Greece surrender much of its sovereignty to outside supervision on Monday in return for agreeing to talks on an 86 billion euro bailout to keep the near-bankrupt country in the single currency.

Just hours after the deal was settled in marathon all-night talks, doubts were already emerging about whether leftwing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras would be able to hold his government together long enough to implement any bailout.


People from all over the world flock to live here. Over 600,000 live here now, and as many as a million more are expected to move into the metro region over the next 30 years.

Some come for the proximity to nature: the city is a short drive from mountains for hiking, climbing and skiing, and the water that snakes around it is frequently dotted with pleasure cruisers, kayaks and paddle boards.

Canada trailing peers in meeting land preservation goals: report

Five years after Canada joined nearly 200 other countries in committing to set aside a significant swath of its landscape for ecological preservation, it lags behind almost every other developed nation in meeting those goals.

The Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society will release a new report on Monday, a copy of which was obtained by The Globe and Mail, that says the pace at which Canada is establishing protected areas is dismal and its promise to preserve at least 17 per cent of its land and inland waters by 2020 will be impossible to achieve unless the rate of progress improves considerably.

Canada Economic Gloom Drags Household Confidence to 12-Week Low

Canada’s consumer optimism is shrinking along with the size of its economy.

The Bloomberg Nanos Canadian Confidence Index fell to 56.1 in the week ended July 10, down from 56.6 in the prior survey and the lowest since April 17. The most recent decline occurred over the same week as government reports showed falling exports, employment and building intentions in the world’s 11th-largest economy, which has seen its gross domestic product contract in the first four months of the year.

“Consumer sentiment on both the future strength of the Canadian economy and the value of real estate realized negative pressure in the last week,” said Nanos Research Group Chairman Nik Nanos.

Obama Urged To Toss Canada Out Of TPP Trade Talks Over Dairy Supply Management: Reports

U.S. politicians are pressuring the Obama administration to leave Canada out of a major and controversial trade deal, if Canada doesn't agree to deregulate its dairy and poultry industries and open them up to foreign competition.

Reuters news service cites “two sources” close to the issue as saying the U.S. may go forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) without Canada if the Harper government refuses to dismantle the supply management system that governs the country’s dairy.

Veterans Affairs failing to answer phone calls quickly: Documents

Veterans Affairs Canada has been struggling to answer the thousands of phone calls it receives from current and former military personnel each month because of technical glitches, staff shortages and poor planning, newly released documents show.

Problems with the processing of new disability claims from injured ex-soldiers have also had a trickle-down effect by creating delays in other areas, meaning more veterans are waiting longer to receive support from the government.

Clinton Has Two Economic Messages: She's Not Jeb Bush, and She's a Lot Like Elizabeth Warren

Hillary Clinton's first major economic speech of the 2016 campaign had one clear target: Jeb Bush. The former Florida governor and top Republican fundraiser has pledged that, if elected president, he'd ensure 4 percent annual growth for the country. Clinton acknowledged the importance of growth but, without directly naming Bush, said that wasn't enough. “I believe we have to build a growth and fairness economy," she said. "You can’t have one without the other."